By an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 11-2, the Florida House Criminal Justice Committee defeated House Bill 4003 by Representative Alan Williams (D). HB-4003 would have repealed Florida’s Castle Doctrine/Stand Your Ground law.
According to NRA-ILA, “House Speaker Will Weatherford kept his word. He gave Representative Williams and his Dream Defenders the hearing they requested. Committee Chairman Matt Gaetz kept his word. He skillfully and expertly ran a fair, open and orderly 5-hour hearing. In a structured format, each side was allowed 30 minutes for Legislators who were not on the Committee to speak on the bill. Speaking in opposition to repeal were Representative Jason Brodeur (R), Representative Marti Coley (R) and Representative Katie Edwards (D). Representative Alan Williams was the only Legislator who spoke in the 30 minute time slot allocated for legislators to speak in favor of repeal.”
Karl Etters in The Tallahassee Democrat writes, “Florida was the first state to adopt the extension of the Castle Doctrine in 2005, which includes a clause stating that a person who feels threatened has no duty to retreat, but instead can lawfully use deadly force anywhere they are lawfully allowed to be. But with more than 10 bills filed in the Florida Legislature addressing some form of self-defense, lawmakers say even without a full repeal of Stand Your Ground, there is room to make tweaks.”
Etters notes, “At a Wednesday press conference, he [Rep. Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale] said instead of focusing on a full repeal, effort should be diverted toward bills like SB 130, which denies aggressors the chance to use self-defense. Gaetz said ‘what the Senate has proposed is an exercise in style over substance. I think you’ve got a couple of senators who just want to see something pass even though it doesn’t fundamentally alter the rights of Floridians in a favorable way.’ National Rifle Association and the Unified Sportsmen of Florida President Marion Hammer said this bill ‘wipes out part of the statutes. It doesn’t tweak it; it doesn’t amend it. It doesn’t adjust it. It is a repeal’.”
Allison Neilson from Sunshine State News reports, “On their Twitter page, the Dream Defenders brought in the issue of race at the hearing, saying that every single supporter of the Stand Your Ground bill at the hearing was white. ‘Every. Single. Opponent. testifying in support of #StandYourGround has been white. Everyone.’ read the tweet. But several lawmakers dismissed the claim that the law was about race, including Rep. Dane Eagle, R-Cape Coral, and Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach. Eagle dismissed the claims, saying instead the law was an issue of human rights.”
Speaking for 2 minutes each were 59 speakers from around the state (24 in support of repeal and 35 opposed to repeal). Following speakers on both sides of the issue the vote was as follows:
Voting Against the Bill To Repeal Stand Your Ground:
Representatives Matt Gaetz, Ray Pilon, Irving Slosberg, Mike Clelland, Dane Eagle, James Grant, Gayle Harrell, Dave Hood, Travis Hutson, Dave Kerner and Charles VanZant.
Voting in Favor of the Bill to Repeal Stand Your Ground
Randolph Bracy and Kionne McGhee.
Currently twenty-two states have some form of an expanded self-defense law that extends to public places, while others only cover a person’s vehicle or business.