Seven years after Florida enacted a landmark “stand your ground” gun rights law that became a model for other states, calls are mounting from the public and some state officials, including Gov. Rick Scott, to reassess it after the fatal shooting of unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watch captain who apparently confronted him after deeming that he looked suspicious, says the Christian Science Monitor. In another developoment yesterday, Bill Lee, police chief in Sanford, Fl., where the Martin killing occurred, said he would temporarily step aside.
The law’s expansiveness could cause problems for prosecutors and law enforcement officials trying to determine the credibility of evidence and witnesses. A coalition of black Florida legislators asked House Speaker Dean Cannon to open hearings on the law, which removes any duty by an armed citizen to retreat from danger and allows the use of deadly force if there’s a reasonable fear of death or grave harm. Cannon says he wants to wait until more facts are known about the incident, and until state and federal investigations are wrapped up. State Sen. Chris Smith is writing a bill that would bar a shooter from claiming self-defense if he or she is at any point the aggressor or provocateur.