By Jim Rosica
A critic of the state’s “stand your ground” law Wednesday said a change to the law now moving through the Legislature will “make it easier for people to murder other human beings.”
Lawmakers now are considering shifting the burden to prosecutors, making them disprove a claim of self-defense. Sen. Perry Thurston, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat, called that making “a bad law worse.”
He appeared with several fellow Democrats at a morning press conference in the Capitol.
The stand your ground law, enacted in 2005, allows people who are attacked to counter deadly force with deadly force in self-defense without any requirement that they flee.
The House on Tuesday amended a Senate measure (SB 128) to change the burden of proof to overcome self-defense to “clear and convincing evidence,” a lower threshold than the Senate’s “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
But lowering the burden won’t help the bill, Thurston told reporters, because the problem is with the burden’s shifting: Essentially forcing prosecutors to prove a negative.
Rep. Kamia Brown, an Orlando Democrat, added that the move will incentivize domestic abusers “to finish the job.”
“Why not go all the way … there won’t be anyone around to dispute” a stand your ground defense, she said.
And Rep. Bobby DuBose, another Fort Lauderdale Democrat, said it will embolden gang members “to pick on the competition” with impunity under the cover of a stand your ground defense.
Specifically, the Senate bill—sponsored by Fleming Island Republican Rob Bradley—would require prosecutors to show “that a defendant is not immune from prosecution.”
It’s in reaction to a state Supreme Court decision that put the onus on the defendant to show self-defense under the stand your ground law.
The House is scheduled to vote on the amended bill later Wednesday, sending it back to the Senate.