TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Responding to renewed public calls to repeal Florida's controversial 'stand your ground' gun law, Democratic state lawmakers have triggered an official state poll of the 160 members of the Florida Legislature on whether a special session should be held on the issue.
- Democratic leaders trigger poll on 'stand your ground'
- Will ask Fla. legislature if there should be special session on issue
With 39 Democrats signing a petition calling for the poll, Secretary of State Ken Detzner is now required to conduct the poll.
If two-thirds of the House and Senate memberships vote in favor of a stand your ground special session, one would be called to order.
But the legislature's majority Republicans remain universally opposed to repealing the law, even in the wake of last month's shooting death of Marquis McGlockton.
McGlockton was gunned down outside a Clearwater convenience store by a man who has so far avoided arrest by invoking stand your ground's self-defense legal protections.
In fact, Republicans voted to enhance the law last year, requiring prosecutors to prove why gunmen invoking a stand your ground immunity defense shouldn't be entitled to it.
"Our citizens in the state of Florida, who are faced with the circumstance where they have to defend themselves, don't have to prove that they were defending themselves," said Sen. Greg Steube (R-Sarasota), one of the architects of the enhancement package, during a Senate floor debate.
The Republicans' philosophical opposition to repealing the law makes it highly unlikely that Democrats will succeed in forcing a special legislative session.
But, with the poll being conducted as the 2018 campaign hits its stride, some Tallahassee veterans say it could help Democrats motivate progressive and minority voters.
"Seeing some action like this is giving them hope, and they will ride it all the way to the polls and they will use it to recruit and try to get people out during this midterm," said Florida policy consultant Trimmel Gomes.