Tallahassee, Florida - The mother of Trayvon Martin is asking how many children have to be killed before Florida takes action to repeal its controversial Stand Your Ground law.
Sybrina Fulton stood with more than a dozen lawmakers at the state Capitol Wednesday and made a poignant plea to lawmakers to fix the Stand Your Ground provision.
"How many lives do we have to lose? How many children have to be killed? How many times are we going to bury our loved ones and not do anything about it? It is important that we do something about this law. As a parent, I just don't quite understand how someone can be a make-believe cop, pursue my son, who had every right to be in that neighborhood, chase him, get in a confrontation with him, shoot and kill him and not be arrested. Something has to be done."
Florida's Stand Your Ground law allows anyone to use deadly force in public if they feel a serious threat. The man charged with killing Trayvon Martin is using that defense.
Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee, and Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, are sponsoring legislation to repeal the Stand Your Ground law.
"These tragedies renew the argument that Stand Your Ground laws make ordinary citizens feel empowered to shoot first and ask questions later, boosting murder rates and justifiable homicide claims, muddling prosecutions and putting individuals that people too often presume to be a threat at particular peril," said Williams.
Gov. Rick Scott assembled a task force to study the Stand Your Ground law after the Trayvon Martin shooting. The group toured cities across the state and listened to people's opinions about the law.
The task force toured cities across the state and listened to people's opinions about the law.
The group's draft report keeps the law intact, but suggests placing limits on neighborhood watch volunteers. It also recommends changing language that helps shield suspects from prosecution if they claim self-defense under the law.
Sen. Dwight Bullard ripped members of the Stand Your Ground task force for developing few suggestions to change the law.
"They had a job to do and they failed their job. At this point we've been waiting for far too long and seen too many cities to watch this dog and pony show go around the state to come up with no recommendations. So we're taking a proactive stance right now, here and now in the state of Florida, to say that the law is an unjust law. What it is, is legalized vigilantism and we can no longer as a state stand for this."
Fulton's Attorney Benjamin Crump said Florida shouldn't act as if Trayvon Martin's death was in vain.
Crump said the Stand Your Ground law is being misused.
"This Stand Your Ground law is far too vague to protect killers and as we have now seen in the aftermath of Trayvon Martin, every Tom, Dick and Harry who kills somebody is saying, 'I was standing my ground.' We simply have to make this law better."
The governor's task force plans to submit its report to Scott before the start of the legislative session in March.