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A legislative committee in Miami took a major step toward clarifying Florida’s hotly debated “ stand your ground” self-defense law approving restrictions on its use, and making it clear that the statute does not permit “vigilantism” by neighborhood-watch activists.

The compromise deal between supporters of the original 2005 statute and critics who want the law repealed provides that no one who initiates a violent confrontation may claim protection under the law. It also requires police to set forth rules for neighborhood-watch groups, specifically providing that patrol volunteers may only notify police about suspicious people and not pursue or confront them.

The proposal resulted from the acquittal last year of George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman in central Florida who shot an unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin, to death. Zimmerman did not claim pretrial immunity from prosecution under the “stand your ground” self-defense clause, but the law allowing use of deadly force in situations of reasonable fear of injury was read to the jury in final instructions, creating confusion in the minds of some jurors.

Read more at: http://www.dispatch.com/

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