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State Rep. Alan Williams tries again with stand your ground repeal

6:34 PM, Aug 20, 2013   |    comments
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Tallahassee, Florida -- State Rep. Alan Williams has again filed legislation that would repeal provisions of the state's controversial Stand Your Ground law.

He did so for the spring's regular session, but that bill did not get a single committee hearing in the Florida House. The bill Williams filed Monday, identical to legislation from earlier in the year, may have a shot at a hearing in the wake of George Zimmerman's not-guilty verdict in the death of Trayvon Martin.

"Others may want to put forward a reform package," Williams said. "I put forward a repealer to start over."

While Dream Defenders protesters occupied the Capitol for a month, demanding among other things a special session of the Legislature to address Stand Your Ground, Speaker Will Weatherford said he would allow House hearings on the self-defense law passed in 2005.

The hearings, Weatherford said, would take place in Chairman Matt Gaetz's Criminal Justice Subcommittee. Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, is a staunch supporter of the state's existing self-defense laws.

The group's call for a special session was rejected by Weatherford, Senate President Don Gaetz, Gov. Rick Scott and more than 90 lawmakers in the Republican controlled Legislature.

Williams said only two House members who voted on the 2005 bill are in the Legislature, Reps. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, and Stand Your Ground sponsor Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala. Any changes to Stand Your Ground face long odds.

"I don't have a crystal ball so I never make predictions. But I have seen nothing to give me any indication that the Legislature wants to change the Stand Your Ground law," said Marion Hammer, past president of the National Rifle Association and is executive director of Unified Sportsmen of Florida.

Williams, chair of the Legislative Black Caucus said there may not be specific bills heard at the Weatherford-ordered hearings. Other bills addressing Stand Your Ground will surely be filed, Williams said.

"This'll be one of the options that'll be on the table."

Bill Cotterell contributed to this story.

Paul Flemming, Florida Capital Bureau

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