The disappointing results from a task force that examined Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law are not a surprise, says columnist Scott Stantis in the Tampa Bay Times. The 19-member panel commissioned by Gov. Rick Scott after the Trayvon Martin shooting was packed with the law’s supporters, while critics were frozen out. Its report that recommends almost no changes to the law, despite overwhelming evidence of its systemic flaws is not worthy of consideration, Stantis says.
Florida’s legislative leaders need to undertake a more thoughtful review themselves, he believes, calling the law “a menace that has allowed too many killers to walk free.” Stantis says that seven years of experience demonstrate the law gives legal cover to people prone to violence, including during road rage and gang shooting incidents. Nearly 60 percent of defendants who have invoked it, says a Tampa Bay Times analysis, had at least one arrest before they killed someone, raising questions about the law applying only to law-abiding people defending themselves. Since the law’s passage in Florida, the FBI says justifiable homicides are up 192 percent, with other “stand your ground” states experiencing similar patterns. The task force failed to do its job thoroughly or impartially, Stantis says, offering several examples.