Florida House approves 'Stand Your Ground' changes

By Jason Lanning , Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, April 05, 2017, 7:09 PM EDT
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A controversial bill to make sweeping changes to Florida's 'stand your ground' law was approved in the Florida House.

  • Bill would shift burden of proof in stand your ground cases
  • Critics argue bill may allow people to get away with murder
  • Senate Bill 128 / HB 245
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The Florida House approved the bill 74 to 39.

The bill's sponsors say the proposed legislation puts the burden of proof where it belongs: with the prosecution. Those who support the changes to stand your ground say it will help protect gun owners.

Meanwhile, critics of the bill say it could allow some people to get away with murder and turn Florida into the Wild West. 

Under the current law, if a gun owner shoots someone and claims self-defense, they have to prove they or someone else was in some kind of immediate danger. 

The new bill shifts the burden of proof from the gun owner to the state. That means courts will assume the gun owner fired in self-defense and the state will have to prove otherwise. 

The amendment change was the language of the bill requiring "clear and convincing evidence," not "proof beyond a reasonable doubt" which the Florida Senate approved last month.

Some legal experts say this change will lead to prosecutors not filing as many charges against gun owners, simply because it will be harder for them to win cases.

The Florida Senate and House bills will now have to be reconciled before the bill can move on to Gov. Scott.

Last year, stand your ground changes failed to get approval. However, the measures have received wider support this year. The bill is being co-sponsored by 22 Republicans.