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Florida Voters Support 'Stand Your Ground' Laws

July 22, 2013 - 6:00pm

Tensions are still running high over a week after the George Zimmerman trial, and Stand Your Ground laws have been at the forefront of debate across the country. But while many are decrying Stand Your Ground, a new poll revealed Florida voters overwhelmingly support the law.

The poll, conducted July 18 by Viewpoint Florida, revealed that not only do more than half of voters believe Zimmermans acquittal was correct, but most voters also believed George Zimmerman shouldnt face any federal charges in the death of Trayvon Martin.

Fifty-six percent of voters said they felt the jurys not guilty decision was the correct verdict, while 63 percent of voters said Zimmerman should not be charged with a federal hate crime.

Protesters throughout the nation have contended that Martins death was racially motivated, but the poll suggests Florida voters feel otherwise.

When asked if Zimmerman was acting in self-defense in the death of Trayvon Martin, 53 percent of voters said they felt he was acting justifiably in self-defense, while 27 percent said he had committed a clear act of racially motivated violence.

The poll comes on the heels of over a weeks worth of protests across Florida and across the country, raising questions about Stand Your Ground laws, racism, and the war on youth in America. Demonstrators from college students to celebrities like Stevie Wonder are calling for changes in the Stand Your Ground laws. The self-defense law exists not only in Florida, but in more than 20 other states as well.

The Viewpoint Florida poll shows, however, that half of Floridians think the law is just fine the way it is. Fifty percent of voters say the law is fine, while 31 percent believe the law needs to be changed or limited. Only 13 percent of voters say the law needs to be eliminated entirely.

We think Stand Your Ground has created a culture that allowed Zimmerman to think that what he did was OK, said Gabriel Pendas, a founder of the Dream Defenders.

I believe Stand Your Ground should stay in the books, Scott said. I agree with you, we should not have racial profiling.

Scott told protesters camped out in his office he has no intentions of holding a special session to change or repeal the Stand Your Ground law in Florida. He then urged protesters to reach out to their legislators who voted for Stand Your Ground when it became law in 2005.

If you believe that Stand Your Ground should be repealed, tell them why and give them your experiences and why if you believe that it causes people actually to do the opposite of what was the intention, give me your examples, Scott said.

Demonstrators have promised to camp out at the Capitol in Tallahassee until the governor decides to hold a special legislative session to discuss Stand Your Ground. Protesters have been holed up outside of Scotts office for over a week.

The study was conducted July 18 among 900 Florida registered voters likely to vote in the 2014 general election. The margin of error is +/- 3.27 percent.

Reach Tampa-based reporter Allixon Nirelsen at

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