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Florida task force recommends keeping 'stand your ground' law

By Vivian Kuo, CNN
updated 2:14 PM EST, Fri February 22, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The body found that the "majority of Floridians favor an expansive right to self-defense"
  • The law says a person can use force in self-defense without first having to retreat
  • The task force was formed on March 22 in response to the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin
  • Justifiable homicides reported in Florida have risen since the law went into effect

(CNN) -- A Florida task force on Friday recommended that the state's controversial "stand your ground" law not be overturned.

The body, appointed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott, found that the "majority of Floridians favor an expansive right to self-defense."

The law states that a person is permitted to use force in self-defense without first having to retreat from a potentially dangerous situation.

"All persons who are conducting themselves in a lawful manner have a fundamental right to stand their ground and defend themselves from attack with proportionate force in every place they have a lawful right to be," the 44-page report said.

Since its enactment in Florida in 2006, the law has been frequently cited in cases ranging from an incident in which a man sprayed a vehicle carrying a known gang member with 14 bullets to the 2011 case of a man who was cleared under "stand your ground" after stabbing a man in the head with an ice pick during a road rage incident.

The number of justifiable homicides reported in the state has skyrocketed since the law went into effect. In the five years before the law's approval, Florida averaged 12 justifiable homicides a year, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. In the six years since, the average is 33.

Scott formed the task force on March 22 in response to the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager. Martin was killed by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Florida, after a confrontation.

The incident sparked national outcry, prompted a Justice Department investigation and raised questions about the controversial law.

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