Matt Gaetz (R-Fort Walton Beach), the Florida representative tasked with chairing the “Stand Your Ground” hearings, said he doesn’t “support changing one damn comma” of the law.
On Friday Florida House speaker Will Weatherford announced that there will be hearings on Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law this fall, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
“It would be reactionary and dangerous to make Floridians less safe to pacify uninformed protesters,” Gaetz said.
The hearings are partly in response to the Dream Defenders, a group of young adults who have spent the weeks following the verdict protesting the Capitol in hopes of changing the controversial law.
The goal of the Dream Defenders is to get a special session of the legislature, which has yet to be granted.
“It’s a critical first step,” Phillip Agnew, executive director of the Dream Defenders, told the Tampa Bay Times. “We’ve been here for three weeks. We know democracy takes time. Progress takes time.”
In response to Gaetz’s comments, the House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston (D-Fort Lauderdale) told the Tampa Tribune:
That type of attitude is why we have the people of the state protesting. It will only continue to fuel those who are calling for actions that Florida doesn’t really need, like boycotts and everybody arming themselves. Those voices will only get louder. The people of Florida deserve adult conversation about the issue.
As chairman of the hearings, Gaetz will have the power to allow or prevent a vote on any legislation filed with his committee.
Follow Carrie Healey on Twitter @CarrieHeals.