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Weatherford leading from front on ‘stand your ground’

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Published:   |   Updated: August 16, 2013 at 04:05 PM

Those who decried the law even as it was being fed through the sausage maker said there would be trouble some day. Oh, yes they did. It was too extreme and too hasty and its sweep was too broad for the otherwise workable problem it sought to fix. Innocents would die, they said.

Astonishingly, even a smattering of the law’s original supporters are belatedly admitting the extremists were, at least in part, correct: Innocents will die. But these heretics are the few, the rare exceptions not bought off by special-interest lobbyists oozing cash. The rest tell us the law is fine just as it is; we just need to work out the kinks that have recently proved troublesome. Besides, they tell us, it’s the law of the land. Deal with it, they say. Move on.

But enough about ObamaCare.

The “stand your ground” law the Florida Legislature enacted in 2005 despite spirited — if severely limited — opposition of late has been retargeted for rebuke given its tangential role in last year’s shooting death in Sanford of teenager Trayvon Martin and the acquittal last month of trigger man George Zimmerman.

But rather than thumb their noses — as our Washington betters in similar circumstances have — some of our state’s most devoutly conservative Republican leaders have lately acknowledged the importance of the hubbub, with Wesley Chapel’s Will Weatherford, speaker of the Florida House, not just among them, but leading them.

Weatherford has announced plans to summon a group of legislators this fall to hear the public’s assessment of how “stand your ground” is working, ostensibly as a precursor to diving back in.

This does not mean that Weatherford himself is for repeal, or even substantial tweaking. “I have strong opinions on the matter as do most people,” he wrote during an email exchange. “However, we should never be scared of a good discussion about our Second Amendment rights or our ability to protect ourselves. This issue is worthy of an old fashioned legislative debate!”

Amen to all that.

We wrote this about “stand your ground” a few weeks back, before demonstrators — with no jobs to go to? — and other opportunistic peddlers of division invaded Gov. Rick Scott’s office: “Let’s have that scrutiny. Defenders of the law should invite it, understanding there is no statute that cannot be improved by studying its experience in the marketplace.”

Subsequently, Weatherford said, “Our evaluations of (the law’s) effectiveness should be guided by objective information, not by political expediency.” It is to Weatherford’s credit that he is willing to shed sunlight on a controversial law.

But it’s also worth noting that, in absolute contrast to a certain national health care makeover, “stand your ground” was passed in coolly reflective times after extensive debate and with overwhelming bipartisan majorities. Moreover, the law still polls extraordinarily well. Even so, the state’s elected Republicans are willing to say, “Pop the hood, OK? Let’s have another look.”

This is what we call leadership. You could look it up.

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