In the first move to change the legislation since the Dream Defenders took over the state house and demanded the repeal, The Florida House Subcommittee on Criminal Justice voted 12-1 to advance a bill that would expand the law by allowing someone to brandish or discharge their weapon “in defense of life, home, & property.” The committee also voted down the Democrat-backed measure to repeal the law entirely 11 -2.
The repeal measure was subject to a lengthy public discussion, including testimony from members of the Dream Defenders, the protest group that took over the Florida Capitol in August after George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. While Zimmerman never claimed “stand your ground” in his defense, it became a hotly debated issue, and the acquittal ultimately prompted the Dream Defenders month-long sit-in.
One of the groups leaders, Philip Agnew, vowed to not forget those who voted against the repeal.
“We will remember those who chose an aggressive approach to the cancer that afflicts our state, and those that chose to keep the money in their pockets,” he said.
While repeal opponents focused on the importance of the right to defend against an attacker, the repeal bill’s sponsor, House Democratic Whip Alan Williams, argued that since its passage in 2005, cases of justifiable homicide rose 200%.
Still, those in favor of the repeal were met with dissent.
“Stand your ground is core to the American way of life,” Republican State Rep. Jimmie T. Smith said.
State Rep. Matt Gaetz, who oversaw the hearing, has been one of the strongest supporters of the law. “I don’t support changing one damn comma of the stand your ground law,” Gaetz said in August.
The American way of life? Well, that says a lot.
SOURCE: MSNBC | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty
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