Florida Sen. Bill Nelson criticized his state’s Stand Your Ground law Thursday on Andrea Mitchell Reports, saying the controversial legislation “ought to be changed.”
“I think where there are the extreme cases, for example, a guy gets into a fight; he leaves, goes to his car, gets a gun and comes back and kills the person he was fighting. To use Stand Your Ground in that circumstance is ridiculous,” he told Mitchell.
“And yet, in 200 cases in my state of Florida, they go all over the waterfront as to how they’ve been adjudicated. And so I think the law needs to be considerably tightened.”
Stand Your Ground laws adopted in dozens of states nationwide expand the legal definition of self-defense beyond the parameters of the “Castle doctrine,” which permits the use of force in one’s home.
The law came into the spotlight after the February 2012 shooting of Florida teen Trayvon Martin. While defendant George Zimmerman did not invoke Stand Your Ground in his defense (he said he shot Martin in self-defense after the teen attacked him), it received an enormous amount of media attention and the judge mentioned it in instructions to jury members during the trial. Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges.
Nelson spoke pragmatically about the law and its prevalence in state legislation.
“Since it’s in about two dozen states, you’re not going to wipe out the laws. Maybe down the road we do need to change these and completely eliminate them, but in the meantime they need to be severely constricted,” he told Mitchell.
Editor’s note: George Zimmerman has sued NBC Universal for defamation. The company strongly denies the allegation.