At a time when gun control and self-defense are at the center of debate, a Florida House Democrat has filed a bill (HB 4009) to repeal Florida's controversial stand your ground law.
We're all too familiar with the protest and rallies spanning the country, all calling for the arrest of George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer charged with the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. During Zimmerman's trial set for June 2013, the defense plans to argue "stand your ground".
Meanwhile, Rep. Alan Williams of Tallahassee says the "stand your ground" law has failed and is looking to repeal the law; a move that divides many in Bay County.
"Any time that someone is trying to attack you, in any way, you have the right to defend yourself, I believe that with all my heart." Dave Evans says.
"You can't wait for a cop sometimes to arrive. Sometimes they are 45 minutes away before they show up. So when you're in that situation, you have no choice, you have to do what you got to do." Vickie Bowers adds.
Before using deadly force, this proposed bill argues one should retreat if at all possible, but for Panama City resident Barbara Alexander, retreating is a risk she's not willing to take. "I could turn and walk away and get shot in the back. You never know, it all depends on the individuals themselves."
When stand your ground passed, the legislature did away with the duty to retreat, something criminal defense attorney Waylon Graham is familiar with.
"The appellate courts have already started creating case law on this statute, but if you tweak that statute we would have to start all over and I think that they need to leave it alone, let the case law guide us and we (judicial system) will do what's right." Graham says.
State Attorney Glenn Hess also issued a statement saying, "Stand your ground was a solution seeking a problem. We already had adequate self-defense laws in place and tweaking it would complicate the problem. Let us work with it."
According to the News Service of Florida, the bill doesn't have a Senate sponsor at this time, however several lawmakers are considering taking it on. Williams will have to get the bill past Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee. Baxley co-sponsored the self-defense law in 2005 and sat on the Scott task force. He has often said that the law was never intended to protect those who pursue their victims.
Bay County had it's own "stand your ground" case less than two years ago. Rotesia Bryant of Panama City was attacked by her boyfriend and begged a judge to withhold adjudication.
Judge Brantley Clark granted her request in early January 2012. Click here to read more.