Dont expect an overhaul of the task force looking at state self-defense laws. Anti-gun proponents are not going to replace those already named to the diverse panel on the eve of the groups first meeting.
Gov. Rick Scott said the selection of people to the statewide group was a no-win situation, as he anticipated that no matter who was appointed to the 19-member Citizens Safety and Protection Task Force, there surely would be a backlash.
If those who are pro (Second Amendment rights) said, Oh gosh, I picked the wrong people because this is all set up to get rid of Stand Your Ground,' then the people on the other side said, 'No, this is all pro (gun),' I don't know what I could have done," Scott said Thursday, during an appearance on WOFL FOX 35 in Orlando.
The task force was announced as 19 members, with two additional members -- recommendations from Attorney General Pam Bondi -- named April 23.
On Wednesday, state Rep. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, wrote Scott to suggest that fewer gun rights advocates be included on the panel.
Prior to convening this committee, you stated publicly that the group would not go in with any preconceived notions, but instead would take the task of reviewing not only Stand Your Ground but issues of public safety in general, Bullard wrote.
In the last week, with the establishment of this task force, you have sent a very inconsistent message to Floridians. Though on face you have selected a mixed group, in reality the lawmakers chosen for this task force all represent a singular viewpoint, having all voted and/or co-sponsored the bill that would become the Stand Your Ground statute (excluding Rep. (Jason) Brodeur (R-Sanford), who is a proven pro-gun advocate).
In 2011, Brodeur sponsored legislation that made it illegal for doctors to ask patients if they had guns in their homes.
Bullard also suggested replacing Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, who sponsored the Stand Your Ground bill in 2005 and Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, who co-sponsored the bill. And to replace them with Rep. Barbara Watson, D-Miami Gardens, and/or Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens, and include a gun victims rights representative or a conflict resolution specialist.
The task force will conduct its first meeting May 1.
The meeting at the Department of Transportation headquarters in Tallahassee is expected to be a mostly organizational affair, with members setting up plans to hold public meetings across the state throughout the summer and fall, along with taking suggestions on expert presenters to be brought before the panel.
The task force was pieced together in response to calls for a review of the Stand Your Ground law following the Feb. 27 shooting in Sanford of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old from Miami, by George Zimmerman, 28.
Zimmerman, a volunteer neighborhood watchman, has claimed he acted in self-defense under the Stand Your Ground law.
The University of Florida's Levin College of Law will assist the task force, compiling statistics on how the Stand Your Ground law has been used.
If any changes are suggested to Stand Your Ground (Florida Statute Chapter 776) or other rules involving public safety, nothing can be done until legislators begin to schedule conferences at the end of the year, in advance of the 2013 regular session.
The task force members are as follows:
- Sheriff Larry Ashley of Shalimar Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office.
- State Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, District 24.
- Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Kenneth B. Bell.
- State Rep. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, District 33.
- Derek E. Bruce of Orlando, attorney with Edge Public Affairs.
- Joeph A. Caimano Jr. of Tampa, criminal defense attorney with Caimano Law Group.
- Edna Canino of Miami, president of the Florida Embassy of League of United Latin American Citizens, Council 7220.
- Getchen Lorenzo of Fort Myers, neighborhood watch coordinator for the Fort Myers Police Department.
- Judge Krista Marx of West Palm Beach, 15th Judicial Circuit.
- Katherine Fernandez Rundle of Miami, state attorney for the 11th Judicial Circuit.
- Stacy A. Scott of Gainesville, assistant public defender with the 8th Judicial Circuit.
- Mark Seiden of Miami, self-employed attorney.
- State Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, Florida Senate, District 22.
- State Sen. Gary Siplin, D-Orlando, Florida Senate, District 19.
- Sheriff Jerry Demings, of Orange County.
- Chief David L. Perry, the chief of Florida State University Police Department.
Floridians can follow the task force meetings through a website, www.FLGov.com/citizensafety, or follow the task force on Twitter @FLCitizenSafety
Reach Jim Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (772) 215-9889.