Fla. looks to expand controversial Stand Your Ground law

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- In Florida Monday, hundreds of protesters gathered at the state capitol, demanding changes in the Stand Your Ground law. The law allows a person to use deadly force to defend himself, even if retreat is possible.

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Florida state Rep. Matt Gaetz
CBS News
In Florida's gun-friendly legislature, lawmakers want to allow people in fear of their lives to fire a warning shot at their attacker.

"In Florida, we believe in robust self-defense laws, it's worked. It's created a 42-year crime low," said state Rep. Matt Gaetz.

Gaetz pointed to the case of Marissa Alexander. She was initially sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot at her abusive husband.

"I'm more interested in closing a loophole where someone would be punished more for missing with a bullet than they would be for striking someone with a bullet in a self-defense circumstance," Gaetz said.

Eleven states are considering bills to adopt or strengthen Stand Your Ground laws, but 12 states are deciding whether to weaken or repeal them.

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Sybrina Fulton
CBS News
Sybrina Fulton wants Florida's law gone. As Trayvon Martin's mother testified before a Florida Senate committee Monday, hundreds of protesters outside rallied in support of repealing it. George Zimmerman, a crime watch volunteer, killed Martin, claimed self defense and was acquitted of murdering the 17-year-old.

"I feel like there's no justice in Stand Your Ground law," Fulton told CBS News.

Asked what she thinks would happen in Florida if the law is expanded to include warning shots, Fulton said, "I think everybody is going to go out and buy guns and shoot and say, 'OK, this is my warning shot.' And I think it sends an awful message."

The woman who fired a warning shot toward her husband will be retried in July because of improper jury instruction. This time, prosecutors plan to push for a sentence of 60 years.

  • Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann was named CBS News Transportation correspondent in August 2011. He has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001, and is based in the Atlanta bureau.

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