The Miami Herald is reporting that Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford has announced plans to order hearings this fall on the state's controversial "Stand your ground" law.
It is considered a victory for the Dream Defenders, a group of activists and professionals who began protesting at the capitol after George Zimmerman was acquitted in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
"It's a critical first step," said Phillip Agnew, executive director of the Dream Defenders. "We've been here for three weeks. We know Democracy takes time. Progress takes time."
They shouldn't celebrate too hard. Weatherford assigned the task of chairing the hearings to a staunch supporter of the law, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach.
"I don't support changing one damn comma of the stand your ground law," Gaetz said Friday. "It would be reactionary and dangerous to make Floridians less safe to pacify uninformed protesters."
Gaetz, the 31-year-old son of Senate President Don Gaetz, talks tough on crime. He passed a bill this year that expedited death row cases and has been known for pushing conservative causes popular in his Panhandle district. He expects the hearings to draw national attention, and he says he's ready for the debate.
"I want to have hearings, it's a good idea," Gaetz said. "Right now, the only voices on stand your ground are coming from the radical left. I want an opportunity to give a full-throated defense of the law."
Read more at the Miami Herald.