TAMPA, Fla. – Lucy McBath, faith and outreach leader for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Everytown for Gun Safety, along with the Florida chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a part of Everytown for Gun Safety, today responded to Pasco-Pinellas Circuit Judge Susan Barthle’s decision to reject Stand Your Ground immunity for a retired police officer who fatally shot a man in a Tampa movie theater in January 2014. After two weeks of pretrial testimony, Judge Barthle stated that “the defendant’s testimony was significantly at odds with the physical evidence and other witness testimony” rendering his attempted claim for immunity unjustifiable.
The decision comes as the Florida legislature is considering SB 128/HB 245, bills that would expand Florida’s already dangerous Stand Your Ground law. SB 128/HB 245 would effectively require defendants who raise Stand Your Ground defenses to be convicted twice.
STATEMENT FROM LUCY MCBATH, FAITH AND OUTREACH LEADER FOR EVERYTOWN FOR GUN SAFETY AND MOTHER OF SLAIN TEEN JORDAN DAVIS, WHO WAS SHOT AND KILLED AT A FLORIDA GAS STATION IN NOVEMBER 2012 DURING AN ARGUMENT OVER LOUD MUSIC:
“It is no secret that reckless laws like Stand Your Ground promote a ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ culture in Florida that encourages everyday civilians to act as vigilantes, while avoiding prosecution. After the murder of my dear son, Jordan, my family and I had to sit through two agonizing trials in the pursuit of justice. It is not an experience that I would ever wish on others. I hope lawmakers will use Judge Barthle’s decision as an opportunity to reflect, and make sure this already dangerous law is not expanded by passing SB 128/HB 245.”
STATEMENT FROM MICHELLE GAJDA, VOLUNTEER CHAPTER LEADER, FLORIDA CHAPTER OF MOMS DEMAND ACTION:
“Measures like SB 128/HB 245 would hinder our courts’ abilities to prosecute dangerous gun criminals to the fullest extent of the law, and place a heavier burden on already resource-strapped prosecutors without giving them more funding. We cannot allow our lawmakers to support measures that would effectively require criminal defendants to be convicted twice. Floridians deserve to live in a state where dangerous laws do not allow criminals to walk free.”