The original sponsor of Florida's controversial stand your ground law is cautious about altering the self-defense statute, even though he admits it has led to some puzzling rulings.
Speaking with reporters before a meeting of the Capital City Republican Club in Tallahassee on Wednesday, state Rep. Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala) said he was "cautious" about proposals to amend Florida's self-defense laws.
"But at the same time, I'm not going to pre-empt the discussion. Let's listen. Let's see if there are new things that we need to do to make Florida safer and better moving forward," he said.
Baxley claimed that the stand your ground law -- which allows a person who feels threatened to use deadly force without the requirement to first try to retreat -- had made Florida a safer state. However, the lawmaker acknowledged that the self-defense statute had been used in court in dubious ways.
"I am puzzled by some of the rulings that I see and I think it's more about application and context," he told reporters. "We looked very much at the appropriate context, doing nothing unlawful in order to qualify for any kind of presumption about not being prosecuted and so I am puzzled by some of the rulings that have been made. I think they were more focused on just the climactic moment of interchange."
During his speech to the Capital City Republican Club, Baxley said that the law didn't apply to those who "pursue, confront, [and] provoke other people," according to the Florida Current.
Florida's stand your ground law came under scrutiny after George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, in 2012. Baxley denied that the shooting had anything to do with the stand your ground law, and accused Democrats of manipulating the incident for political gain.
"The first person to say anything about elections was Al Sharpton. He said, 'This is going to be the '14 and '16 elections.' Well, all of a sudden, I noticed that President Obama went from 'That could my son' to 'That could be me.' There was a merging of images, and let us all, as Republicans, run against Trayvon Martin -- the innocent young kid who was chased down by a white man and murdered. He knew good and well that narrative was false," Baxley said, according to the Current.
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