There are no surprises in the report from the Task Force on Citizen Safety and Protection, which was released late last week.
The stand-your-ground law stands, as is.
The task force was formed in the wake of the controversial Trayvon Martin shooting in Sanford – a case that has yet to be adjudicated.
Its mission was to review Chapter 776, Florida Statutes – the deadly force laws – and conduct a listening campaign around the state, hearing from Floridians who support or oppose the “stand” law.
Once done traveling, the group was told to make a report to the governor and the legislature, to ensure the rights of all Floridians and visitors were protected,” including the right to feel safe and secure in our state.”
The 19-member group, which was co-chaired by Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll and Reverend R.B. Holmes, Jr., held public hearing in seven cities: Tallahassee, Longwood, Arcadia, West Palm Beach, Cutler Bay, Jacksonville, and Pensacola.
I attended a task force meeting in Arcadia. Many individuals came to ask for help with a host of personal issues, but there were basically two types of people at the hearing: those who believed Trayvon Martin was murdered, who worried that a similar killing could befall their community, and gun-rights groups. The former believed the law goes too far in allowing self-defense claims to free those who kill when violence could be avoided.
The task force was very good about giving both sides their say.
According to their report, the task force received “16,603 pieces of correspondence, 711 phone calls, 64 comment cards, 160 public comments.”
The group’s first “core recommendation” says all you need to know:
* The Task Force concurs with the core belief that all persons, regardless of citizenship status, have a right to feel safe and secure in our state. To that end, all persons who are conducting themselves in a lawful manner have a fundamental right to stand their ground and defend themselves from attack with proportionate force in every place they have a lawful right to be.
There are seldom clear answers when deadly force is used. Everything is grey.
Even though the law remains unchanged, an armed citizen who uses deadly force should be prepared for up-close and personal contact with law enforcement, and the strong possibility of a civil suit, regardless of the immunity clause embedded into the statute.
Here are the task force’s recommendations: