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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Baxley defends SYG law, but is "open" to possible changes

4

September

Speaking to the Capital City Republican Club Wednesday, state Rep. Dennis Baxley noted his "penchant for issues that are colorful."

Case in point: the Stand Your Ground self-defense law.

The Ocala Republican sponsored the controversial legislation in the Florida House in 2005, and defended it adamantly on Wednesday.

"I truly believe we've been safer in Florida because of this legislation," he said.

Still, Baxley said he would be willing to debate Stand Your Ground in the aftermath of George Zimmerman's recent acquittal.

Baxley might "be open to some changes," he said.

But he cautioned: "Once you get a statute opened on the floor, you really don't have control over what will happen."

He declined to speculate on what the outcome might be.

Baxley said the debate would be fruitful, even though the state representative tapped to lead a hearing on the law, Rep. Matt Gaetz, has said he doesn't support changing "one damn comma."

Said Baxley: "Debate is always authentic."

He said he hoped the dialogue would include some discussion about how the law is applied. Baxley said he was "puzzled" by some of the rulings involving the statute, though he did not name the specific cases that troubled him most.

"I think it is more about application and context..." he said. "There will always be tough calls near the foul line wherever you put the foul line."

Before wrapping up, Baxley announced that he would seek reelection in 2014, and make a bid for the Florida Senate in 2016. He intends to run for the seat Sen. Charlie Dean, R-Inverness, will be vacating due to term limits.

Baxley ran for state Senate in 2007, but lost to Dean in the Republican primary.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 3:24pm]

    

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