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Fixes to Stand Your Ground Moves Forward After Senate Committee Vote

State senators on Tuesday advanced proposed changes to the state's Stand Your Ground law on Tuesday, almost three months after George Zimmerman was acquitted in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

In a 7-2 vote, the Senate Judiciary committee voted to move forward a measure that includes, among other things, training for neighborhood crime watch volunteers.

It also includes a provision in which police can "fully and completely investigate" when self-defense is used.

Naturally, the gun-rights peeps are not too thrilled with these developments.

The concerned gun-humpers and GOPers are skeptical that people using self-defense might still be held liable if they kill or injure someone, which is kind of the point of why the law needs to be fixed in the first place.

Sen. David Simmons, the lawmaker mainly responsible for giving us the law, which was drafted in 2005, argued for its merits on Tuesday while calling it an imperfect law.

Other changes to the law might also include how to proceed in punishing someone when innocent bystanders are hurt or killed during a self-defense shooting. This is something Simmons, along with Senate Minority Leader Chris Smith, has fought to make sure happens.

"This has truly been an effort in which we have taken this issue, dealt with it in a bipartisan constructive manner and I believe reached a consensus thus far," Simmons said.

The legislation slated for a vote today is inspired by some problems exposed in the Trayvon Martin case. It would require county sheriffs and city police departments to set guidelines for "neighborhood watch" programs like the one to which Zimmerman belonged and to restrict their activities to observing and reporting suspected crimes.

Overall, the vote shows progress in tackling the thorny issue of the Stand Your Ground law as we know it. This is a far cry from where we were days after the Zimmerman trial ended and protesters crowded Rick Scott's office demanding change.

But, because these things never roll smoothly, we can expect it to hit a wall in the House.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, (a GOPer, of course) is refusing to make any changes to the law. Gaetz, by the way, chairs the Criminal Justice subcommittee.

Should be fun seeing how far this goes and how watered down it gets and then how it dies a slow, painful death in the House.

And by "fun," we mean, "horribly infuriating." Because, Florida.

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Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph

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