The threat to boycott Florida unless the Legislature modifies the “stand your ground” law has at least two shortcomings.
To the extent that a boycott curtailed tourism, the brunt would fall on restaurant and hotel workers, who don’t deserve the hit. Waitresses would have to lose a lot of tips before Gov. Rick Scott cares. More to the point, a boycott by definition is something non-Floridians would do. If Florida is going to change, Floridians will have to change it.
In their minds, many of those who have suggested that entertainers and visitors should boycott Florida are well-intentioned. But Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, probably was safe to say last week that he doesn’t see any “looming economic crisis,” from a boycott. Sen. Gaetz remains a staunch stand your ground supporter.
House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, at least showed a tiny interest in reviewing the law — but only if law enforcement officials say there’s a problem. “To me,” Rep. Weatherford said, “there’s nowhere in that ‘stand your ground’ law that says the aggressor who physically starts an altercation then has the right to claim self-defense.” However, he acknowledged that some judges could interpret the law that way. That alone should be reason enough to clarify the statute.
Gov. Scott has refused to call a special session to review the law, despite a persistent sit-in at his offices. In fact, a review of the law would be the first in-depth discussion by the Legislature of stand your ground, which waved it through in 2005 with help from Democrats who wanted to show that they, too, could roll over for the NRA. The state panel that supposedly reviewed the law prior to George Zimmerman’s trial was stacked with supporters.
Democrats assumed their submissive pose because pro-gun politics rules in Florida, just as it has in Washington. Not that most voters here or in the nation rabidly support extreme interpretations of the Second Amendment. In fact, the majority favor reasonable gun restrictions and self-defense laws that don’t encourage gunslingers. But even Newtown and the Trayvon Martin case have not sufficiently galvanized a majority of voters.
There’s an opportunity, though, for stand your ground to be part of a package — along with education, health care, social issues, race concerns and the environment — that motivates Floridians to send more enlightened leaders to Tallahassee. Boycotters can’t do that. Dedicated organizers might.
Jac Wilder VerSteeg
for The Post Editorial Board