'Stand your ground' task force just political theater

This is why Florida is the butt of the nation's jokes.

We can't count our votes on time. The road to CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus' downfall veered straight off Interstate 4 and into the mansion of "Tampa Kardashian" Jill Kelley. We order government studies to answer questions that are already painfully obvious such as whether texting and driving is dangerous (Yes!).

And when we have the opportunity to do something serious — something that could make us a leader for improvements and reform — we waste it.

I'm talking about fixing the law that made Central Florida the epicenter just nine months ago for explosive debates about racism, gun rights and when one person has a right to kill another.

But memories seem short since George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin on that cold and rainy February evening.

The law at the center of it all known as "stand your ground" caused two prosecutors to come to two wildly different conclusions.

People rightfully began to scrutinize "stand your ground," a 2005 law written by National Rifle Association lobbyist and Tallahassee puppet master Marion Hammer that removed the "duty to retreat" from Florida's self-defense statute.

In other words, if you believe you are in danger, Florida law says there's no need to run away or get yourself out of the situation if you can. You can just pull out your piece and fire, with immunity from prosecution.

Trayvon's death shined a light on other cases that had invoked "stand your ground": a gang member who got off scot-free for a shooting. A case of road rage that ended with one man stabbing another with an ice pick.

Feeling pressured to do something, the governor named a task force to study the law and make recommendations.

But this was nothing more than political theater. Gov. Rick Scott stacked the committee with members already convinced it was a good law and not in need of major reform.

He included the two Republican lawmakers who were major backers of the original bills (Dennis Baxley and David Simmons). Also named were two others who voted for it (including task-force Chairwoman Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll and Sen. Gary Siplin) — and, for good measure, one of the NRA's newest darlings, Rep. Jason Brodeur, who tried passing a law to throw pediatricians in jail for asking parents about guns at home.

They held seven meetings. They listened to all kinds of testimony. They collected more than 11,000 emails and phone calls from the public (official tally: 7,641 against the law and 2,783 in support of it, with 622 undecided).

And, ultimately, they did ... nothing.

Well, almost nothing.

The task force came out with a draft of its final report last week that suggested the Legislature make some clarifications to the law, but didn't bother specifying what they should be.

For example, the committee — with the blessing of Hammer, who endorsed the idea — said that the law should define "unlawful activity" so that criminals can't claim immunity after killing someone while committing another crime.

But the report said the task force didn't want to "usurp the authority of the Legislature by drafting specific language."

How unhelpful. And gutless.

Instead, the committee suggests trying to regulate Neighborhood Watch groups with training requirements, something that sheriffs' offices and police departments already do. Zimmerman even attended such training when he started a watch group for his Sanford neighborhood.