A panel of Florida lawmakers shot down a proposal to repeal the state’s “Stand your ground” law but approved an amendment to allow immunity for those who fire a warning shot, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Nearly 300 people attended the vote to give their opinion on the controversial law that has been in the national spotlight and under intense scrutiny since the shooting of Trayvon Martin and the 20-year prison sentence for Marissa Alexander, a battered wife who fired a single warning shot to scare her abusive husband.
The hearing, which was held before the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, lasted five hours, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Rep. Alan Williams, a Tallahassee Democrat, said his push to repeal “Stand your ground” was rooted in trying to make sure “we keep our streets and our communities and our neighborhoods safe,” the Tampa Bay Times reports. “We have had a number of cases that have shown us over and over that the law as adopted in 2005 isn’t working,” Williams said.
The committee rejected the repeal bill in a 2-11 vote.
Democratic Rep. Katie Edwards, a supporter of the law, said, “The people I represent, the people we represent, need not be required, or have imposed upon them, a duty to retreat … I won’t turn my back on responsible self-defense laws.”
While the committee upheld “Stand your ground,” it did file a separate bill after Alexander’s sentencing that would ensure people who fired a warning shot would not be subject to the minimum-mandatory sentencing—which ensured that the accused would serve anywhere from 10 years to life, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Marion Hammer, the chief lobbyist for the National Rifle Association in Florida, also supported the separate bill.
“10-20-Life was never intended to be used against citizens who, in an act of self-defense, threatened the use of force to stop an attack,” Hammer said.