Residents, senators sound off at FAMU forum on stand your ground law

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FAMU forum
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. —

Some think George Zimmerman's acquittal of killing unarmed teen Trayvon Martin left Floridians with a bad impression of the state's justice system and laws.

"I can patrol my streets with a gun and when I find somebody that looks shady to me I can approach them and if they can come at me I can make my day," said Sen. Chris Smith.

One of the authors of the "Stand Your Ground" law, the law now making national headlines, said it's very pro-victim.

"'Stand Your Ground' is, in fact, something that is very fair," Florida Sen. David Simmons said.

A room of 200 people packed FAMU's law school in Orlando Wednesday to discuss why the law has so many scratching their heads.

"If we have a law that is so confusing to police officers and to jurors, then why have a law?" Martin family attorney Natalie Jackson said.

"There is great disparity in outcomes in the terms of how this law is applied," Sen. Geraldine Thompson said.

However, according to Simmons, the law is misunderstood, so much so he said Zimmerman would never have been able to use it after he followed Martin, and believes Zimmerman was the provoker, eliminating him from that defense.

"There wouldn't have been any issue as to who was on top, who was on bottom, there wouldn't have been any issue as to who was yelling who wasn't," Simmons said.

Some fear others will misunderstand the law, too.

"There's a lot of people who look like Mr. Martin out there that got a message that maybe I need to shoot first," Smith said.