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Stand Your Ground panel meets in Jacksonville

5:59 PM, Oct 16, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The panel tasked with investigating the Stand Your Ground law in the wake of Trayvon Martin's death heard testimony in Jacksonville on Tuesday.

The Stand Your Ground Statute was new to Geraldgene Cann, an international student at Edward Waters College.

And as a single mother in Jacksonville, she supports the law.

"I feel we need to be protecting ourselves," she said.

Cann was one of two dozen people listening to the panel review Stand Your Ground on Tuesday.

As a Criminal Justice student, she's looked at how Florida's Stand Your Ground law compares to other states that have enacted similar legislation.

"Looking at the Florida law compared to other states, Florida law is like, wow," she said.  

Since Florida passed Stand Your Ground in 2005, 25 other states have passed some variation of the law.

But after Trayvon Martin's death, she thinks the state needs to take a second look at how it's written.

"I think they need to dig deep, really really dig deep, to refine some of these laws because it is very vague," she said.

That's a sticking point for a number of people who oppose the legislation, including the Shoot First Coalition.

"It's written in a way that's so vague it's interpreted differently for every judge, every lawyer, every police officer," she said.

Ginny Simmons is the Executive Director of the 2nd Chance Shoot First Group, who is rallying states across the country to repeal their Stand Your Ground legislation.

"Someone shouldn't be the attacker and then be able to shield themselves with Stand Your Ground. Someone shouldn't be a criminal and be shielded by Stand Your Ground laws," said Simmons.

A majority of the people who testified at the hearing Tuesday disagreed, pointing to cases where people were legitimately in fear for their life, and used the law appropriately.

But in the instances where it's not, Simmons says the law isn't worth the risk.

"It encourages people to shoot first and ask questions later," she said.

The panel will meet once more in Pensacola before making their recommendations to the legislature.

First Coast News

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