Critics have right to be skeptical about Rick Scott's Task Force on Stand Your Ground

Weatherford writes:

When some pundits and activists mock our laws, they conveniently omit the undeniable reduction in violent crime rates in our state.

With the exception of a slight increase in 2006, violent crime has dropped or remained stable every year in Florida since 2000. In fact, when you add it up, we experienced a 25 percent drop in the overall violent crime rate in Florida in the past 11 years. These are not just statistics; they represent individual lives protected from harm - one less parent who must bury a child, one less father taken from a family.

I'm not sure where that's an argument for Stand Your Ground, since, as the Representative writes, Florida's reduction in crime precedes that law by five years.

But how about a reality check - crime is down nationally virtually everywhere in this country since 2000, including in states that have far more restrictive regulations when it comes to guns than Florida.

In New York, the Gotham State has experienced double-digit decreases in both crime volume ? the total amount of crime ? and crime rate ? crimes per capita ? over the past decade, it was reported in 2010.

Last summer in Los Angeles, it was reported that serious crime dropped about 8% during the first six months of the year, continuing nearly a decade-long decline. In 2010, L.A. had the fewest number of homicides since 1966.

California, we should note, has some of the strictest gun laws in the United States.

Weatherford writes that "watering down the right of the innocent to protect themselves from wrongdoers will only create more sorrow and pain."

Perhaps he can read in the same Tampa Bay Times editions today about the pain involved in the death of 41-year-old David Jones, who died in 2010 in a confrontation with his Valrico neighbor Trevor Dooley. Dooley is attempting to use Stand Your Ground as his defense.

Supporters of the law may say that Stand Your Ground is an inappropriate defense in the case of Dooley. In fact, one Tampa attorney quoted in the article, Rick Terrana, says just that, while affirming that he's a proponent of the law. But he adds this about the law:

"The problem is that everyone wants to use it nowadays."

Isn't that why this law might need to be seriously amended?

  • Will Weatherford

You don't have to be a conspiracy nut to believe that the odds are fairly good that the task force appointed last week by Governor Rick Scott to examine Florida's Stand Your Ground law isn't going to do anything radical when it comes to how to amend that controversial legislation.

Needless to say, the Governor showed his hand when that list came out last week, which includes four members of the state Legislature. Three of them co-sponsored or voted for the bill, while the fourth (Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford), sponsored the 2011 law that bans doctors from asking patients about gun ownership (a law that has since been struck down by a judge).

The task force chairwoman, Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll, also co-sponsored the bill in 2005.

There are no critics or legislators who voted against the bill on the task force, but the sentiment against doing anything against Stand Your Ground transcends the group and permeates most of Tallahassee's political culture.

Take Will Weatherford, for example, who helped select the task force. In an op-ed published in Friday's Tampa Bay Times, the incoming House Speaker boasts that Florida's "comprehensive and robust" gun laws (Critics call it something else. In the words of Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, a gun owner, some of Florida's gun laws make the state "look like a bunch of knuckleheads").

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