Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) has signed into law a strengthened version of the famous “stand your ground” law that was cited in the jury instructions in the 2012 trial for the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin that eventually acquitted neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman.
The previous version of Florida’s law, signed in 2005, required defendants to prove that they had used force in self defense. The version signed into law Friday shifts that burden to prosecutors, who now must prove that a “stand your ground” defense is not applicable, according to Reuters.
The bill passed largely among party lines. Democrats and critics of the bill worry it will embolden gun owners to shoot first. The 2005 law and subsequent efforts in other states have been supported by the National Rifle Association, which call the laws important for protecting the right for citizens to protect themselves.
The most recent state to install a “stand your ground” law is Iowa, whose former governor Terry Branstad (R) signed into law in April a sweeping expansion of gun rights in the state, which included a “stand your ground” provision.
In 2012, Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), who represents Trayvon Martin’s district, offered a bill calling for the repeal of “stand your ground” laws nationwide. The bill quickly died in the GOP-controlled House.