Gun owners’ self-defense bill moves forward in Florida

A bill backed by the National Rifle Association to protect Florida gun owners who display their weapon or fire a warning shot to deter an attacker sailed through the Senate Judiciary Committee on a unanimous vote Wednesday.

The bill, SB 448, sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chairman Greg Evers, R-Baker, is aimed at ending the threat of prosecution for those protecting themselves or their families as one of the “unintended consequences” of the state’s 10-20-Life law, supporters said.

gundefense0108While Florida’s “stand your ground” law allows people to use deadly force if they are attacked, the 10-20-Life law requires a minimum sentence of 10 years if a firearm is used or displayed during a crime, 20 years if the gun is fired, and a 20 years to life sentence if someone is injured in the shooting.

The new bill “makes clear the original intent of 10-20-Life was to punish [criminals],” said Eric Friday, an attorney for the gun rights group Florida Carry. “It was never intended to apply to those who were attempting to act in self-defense.”

NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer told the committee the bill would “stop prosecutors who are violating the intent of 10-20-Life.”

The NRA supported 10-20-Life when it was passed in 1998, Hammer said.

“We never would have supported a bill that would allow prosecutors to prosecute someone acting in self-defense,” she said. “A threat to use deadly force to stop a deadly assault is self-defense.

“Some prosecutors abuse their discretion … We hope this bill will put a stop to that.”

Bill Cervone, state attorney for the Eighth Judicial Circuit and president of the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association, said his group wasn’t opposed to the bill, but tried to defend prosecutors as “making difficult choices” in determining whether a charge should be filed. He said supporters of the bill made it sound like the state was rife with “renegade prosecutors” taking advantage of the law to put innocent people in prison.

“Place don’t characterize all of Florida’s prosecutors as some sort of renegades,” he said. “We’re trying to do the best we can.”

Evers acknowledged that, but said the law has hurt innocent people.

“There needed to be a bill like this,” he told Cervone.

The bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Neil Combee, R-Polk City, was more adamant.

“There are people in our prisons right now that have never shot anybody,” Combee said. “When did this start marking sense?”

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Joe Saunders

Joe Saunders, a 25-year newspaper veteran, is a staff writer and editor for BizPac Review who lives in Tallahassee and covers capital and Florida politics. Email Joe at jpjsaunders@gmail.com.
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About Joe Saunders

Joe Saunders, a 25-year newspaper veteran, is a staff writer and editor for BizPac Review who lives in Tallahassee and covers capital and Florida politics. Email Joe at jpjsaunders@gmail.com.

  • Abraham Collins

    I find it hard to believe the NRA would condone using warning shots. It’s a very negligent “tactic” if you want to call it that and it violates three of the four tenets of firearms discipline. Look up “celebratory gunfire” on wikipedia if you aren’t aware of the danger warning shots pose.

    • burtfisher

      This logic would also discourage shots to center mass. By the time the problem has escalated to firing the gun, by the homeowner, we are talking about the VERY LAST THING that he is doing before actually taking a life. I suppose that the equivalent pre-attack step could be to load a blank or rubber bullet as the first cartridge. Or to train to always “shoot to kill”.

      Probably the best thing to have done would be to repeal the 10-20-life law because it seems to infringe on the rights of the true victim in Florida. Or maybe to criminally charge any prosecutor who uses that law to charge a homeowner defending himself.

      • sroysr

        i think “charging the prosecutor…” would be reasonable.

      • Raconteur Duck

        One should never “shoot to kill”. You shoot to stop the threat. When the threat is stopped, you stop shooting. If the attacker happens to die, then that is an unintended consequence that the attacker should have foreseen before doing an illegal act upon an armed citizen.

        • burtfisher

          That all sounds great on paper. But when someone breaks in to my mom’s house in the middle of the night, he has passed any threshhold for wondering whether or not he has forseen anything. If my mom blows his head off, or shoots over his head (intentionally or not), if anyone charges her with a crime, I’m going after him.

          I will be “removing the threat”.

          • debalazo

            el-Quack-o is a zionist disinfo troll. Keep an eye on him. Sore, pathetic, brain dead.

          • John Campbell

            Stuff the anti-Semitic crapola. No one needs to read that trash.

          • heroay

            If it bothered you, then it was for YOU! And on the contrary, they must be exposed and trashed at every chance. Gotcha!

          • John Campbell

            Well then in that case go right ahead. I’m sure you’ll fit right in with the neo-nazi bunch. Sieg heil much?

          • heroay

            nazi bunch?? How about, zionist ashkenazi Likud terror squad? Oi-Vey?

          • Raconteur Duck

            burt, re-read what I posted and think about it from a prosecutor’s viewpoint.
            “I shot to stop the threat” vs “I shot to kill the SOB”.
            Which would you prosecute? If you are on a jury, which would you be likely to acquit?
            That’s what I’m talking ’bout.

          • Abraham Collins

            Anyone that testifies with, “I shot to kill” is doomed and an idiot. A kill-shot IS a stop-shot and you can use the “shot to stop” testimony even if you shot to kill. Your argument is foolish.

          • Raconteur Duck

            My argument is one that some of the best defense lawyers recommend. You repeated what I said and then call it foolish? Then again, I guess the humor is lost on you.

          • John Campbell

            Umm, ……. I think you replied to the wrong post.

        • heroay

          WHY do you always blabber against the rights of Americans, and the unalienable right to SURVIVAL, first? Because you are a quack-Quack simpleton behind the JWO and your quack droppings pretend to disinform and confuse your ‘readers’ (barf! BARF!). Quacking drooling troll.

          • Raconteur Duck

            And you prove my point: that you are an idiotic buffoon. But you do amuse me with your attempts at insult. It’s a shame you can’t get up the adult level. I have a third grade nephew that can do better.

          • heroay

            And you prove my point: you are a dumbtard buffoon. But you do crap your pants with my exposure. It’s a shame you can’t get out of the pee pot. I know that a farm pig can whine better than you.

          • Raconteur Duck

            QED

          • heroay

            LOW IQ 70. Comes with the tribe.

        • John Campbell

          Correct in every word as posted.

    • John Campbell

      I disagree. Every scenario is different. You don’t get to choose the events that unfold. Self defense doesn’t require the attacker, burglar, or anyone else to be weaker than you nor unarmed. In some cases you don’t even know such as dark of night. Confronting anyone or anything that is cornered can result in a bad outcome and you don’t have time to confer with the local armchair quarterback. A warning shot can save a life and that life can be yours, a victim other than yourself, or even the criminal, or a potential criminal who might not be a criminal at all.

      • Abraham Collins

        It could also land a mile away and kill a bystander. If you can make a warning shot you can make a kill shot. The kill shot is always preferred.

        • Doug

          Perfect Logic. I agree. Shoot to kill.

          • John Campbell

            The preferred shot is no shot. If a warning shot prevents someone from having to kill then that’s preferred. Being forced to do what you have to is one thing. Shooting simply to have a blanket answer is totally another. No one is qualified to armchair quarterback every situation.

          • heroay

            Doung?? Brain-dead zombies have NO logic. They have worms inside their cavities. Above, and below.

        • Rich7553

          Why do you assume a warning shot would be fired into the air as opposed to the ground? Why do you also assume a “kill” shot at an assailant will find it’s mark, and not hit someone across the street? Please provide the statistical data supporting a greater danger of a warning shot versus one at a moving assailant.

          • Abraham Collins

            I hope none of you morons actually have concealed weapons permits. Every shot you take you will be held responsible for, so if you miss and hit someone across the street you will stand trial for negligent homicide. Be sure of your target and what’s beyond it and train hard so you never ever miss.

            If you fire a warning shot into the ground there is no guarantee that it won’t ricochet, especially if it strikes asphalt or concrete. Any shot you take that endangers the public will land you in jail. Use your brain and stop giving advice that puts lives at risk.

          • Rich7553

            1. When you resort to name-calling, you do nothing to enhance your argument, and merely present yourself as a child.

            2. In a high-stress scenario, there is no such thing as “never miss”. Train all you wish. No one is infallable. Even if you shoot at your intended target, there is no guarantee your shot won’t endanger the public.

            3. What advice was given?

            4. You have neglected to provide the statistical data supporting a
            greater danger of a warning shot versus one at a moving assailant. You make the claim, you prove it. Otherwise, it is unsubstantiated conjecture.

        • Ian

          Bollocks!

    • rolloverandplaydead

      I think that it should be amended to include any discharge…

    • CitizenQuasar

      The NRA is a government stooge ans sometimes a warning shot is sufficient.

      I suppose you prefer the usual American law enforcement motto of “Shoot Americans dead as often as you can. It will get you a free paid vacation.”

  • Trav Magee

    I am not sure of the “warning shot” but brandishing a weapon to diffuse a dangerous situation sounds logical, I don’t see an issue with that. Your warning shot should be the kill shot. There really is no other reason to pull the trigger. You are either in a deadly situation or your not.

    • John Campbell

      I’ve personally been in a situation where a warning shot could have helped. No, I’m not saying I didn’t fire because of the law. Law be damned in that case. The scenario goes like this. Confronted with a burglar who steps out the door of your home as you are about to enter, you draw your weapon, but have no desire to actually take a life. The criminal then challenges whether or not you’re serious. Warning shot delivers the message. If that message is not received then you don’t have a choice but to do what you must to protect your life.

      Here’s another. 02:00 hrs. (2:00 AM).
      It’s dark. Disturbance takes place in your back yard. You don’t know what it is. You grab your sidearm just in case and proceed out back only to discover that someone has climbed over your back fence and is now peering into your daughters bedroom window. You order the suspect to the ground, but the suspect hesitates while sizing you up. Do you fire a warning shot, shoot to kill a possibly unarmed person, or just tell them to have a nice day and ask for 8×10 glossy’s?

      • Abraham Collins

        “The criminal then challenges whether or not you’re serious. Warning shot delivers the message.”

        And warning shot goes through your window and maims a bystander a half mile away. Warning shots are negligent and are for cowards only. Shoot to kill or don’t bother owning a gun at all.

        • John Campbell

          If you have that distance from the perp and the time a warning shot can be convincing. If not, then you do what you have to do. If you have the time for a warning shot you have the time to aim it so the window argument doesn’t work.

          By the way, I’m still trying to figure out how you get cowardice out of that. Sounds like some wannabe tough guy.

      • Trav Magee

        John, where I live, a warning shot is just not sensible. I guess it depends on where you live, and the situation at hand. I wont deny any freedom I did not have before. I just hope people use this with caution.

        • John Campbell

          You are absolutely correct. No two situations are alike in every detail. A warning shot in the wrong place and time could get you killed instead of stopping the intruder or attacker and in the wrong location could harm someone else. Everything depends on the given surroundings and details up to the very second. Know your surroundings.

          That’s one reason why it disgusts me to see so many armchair quarterbacks who have no actual idea of the exacts of an event telling someone else they did it all wrong. There’s just no way to convey every single last detail and in the heat of the moment even the defender cannot know the absolutes of his/her surroundings. That’s why I always tell people to practice scenarios for your own property on dry runs.

          It’s not like something is going to go down every day. Fact is that’s why people get lazy about carrying a firearm and lazy about practice. Because it’s not an every day thing it’s also something that no one can become an expert on, even on their own property, but forethought now could make the difference latter on. It could save your life, someone elses, even prevent you from a possible accident when the perceived threat was in fact a family member or loved one and you didn’t realize it at first. Always think before you even reach for a firearm.

    • Raconteur Duck

      The Darwin Award applies when a bad guy sees an armed citizen ready to fire and does not believe the citizen will shoot.

      • heroay

        The Darwin Award applies only to neanderthals who believe they won’t be made out amidst a group of posting HUMANS.

        • Raconteur Duck

          I hear you are in the lead for a nomination.

          • heroay

            I hear you already got top ‘honors’. Quack-quack?

          • Raconteur Duck

            Puerile.

          • heroay

            Porcine.

  • GuidoFL

    Typical of how the law enforcers are trying to fill our prisons by any means necessary. These people must get a gold star for everyone they send to prison even if that person didn’t commit a crime.

    • John Campbell

      More likely a judge with a political advocacy. It wouldn’t be the first time some leftist activist wore a robe. They don’t care who they hurt nor how so long as they get their way.

      • Abraham Collins

        They all get bullet points on their resume when someone goes to jail. It’s shameful that they’d incarcerate good people for their own personal gain.

  • John Campbell

    I’m all in favor of the “warning Shot”, so long as four things are held true. One, legitimate self defense is the reason, two, the warning shot is clearly defined without making the victim into the criminal, three, it doesn’t ever become mandatory, and, four, there is a serious effort made to educate the public on firearms safety.

    Shooting into soft soil is not much of a problem, but there is always the “But”. For example, hidden rock near the surface? Who is in the net room?

    Shooting into the air is not the boogieman that the anti-gun agenda claims it is, but there is still that “But”. Accidents can happen. What goes up must come down, but the odds of a bullet actually hitting someone are not there. Even if someone is hit, any avid shooter knows that a fragment can travel great distances and also be very hot, but there’s no real harm if someone is hit with one that’s a long lasting affect unless that “accident” factor creeps in. That’s why we call them accidents.

    The choice is, even when using good common sense an accident can occur, or the more sure factor, if the attacker is not persuaded to change their mind what will occur is no accident.

    In the heat of the moment one doesn’t have time nor presence of mind to be 100%. We already have laws that address that as fact. Life is at stake. There should be no laws that facilitate that you must lay down and die if you’re the next victim.

  • Vet63

    An incident here in Colorado some years ago went like this. Rancher returns home and finds his own horse trailer filled with his own belongings hooked to a stranger’s pickup with two men carrying things from the house to the trailer. Rancher challenges them, they jump into their truck and begin to flee with his trailer and belongings. Rancher racks a 30/30 into the chamber and shoots out the left front tire of the pickup. Burglars surrender and rancher holds them for the sheriff. Rancher is charged with felony menacing with a firearm, reckless endangerment and several other related offences. The burglars are given immunity in exchange for their testimony against the rancher who gets the mandatory 7 years.

    • Raconteur Duck

      The prosecutor should have been hung.

  • Vet63

    Just thought of another one. A homeowner finds a large strange dog in his garage. When he tries to shoo it away the dog stands its ground and growls menacingly. The homeowner arms himself with a .22 rifle and fires a shot into the dirt of his front lawn. The dog then flees to a neighbors lawn where it menaces the neighbor who calls the cops. A cop arrives and fires 5 shots from his .40 caliber handgun to kill the dog. The man who shot a .22 into the dirt is charged with reckless discharge of a firearm.

    • heroay

      Arrest the trigger happy cop. Fire him, then arrest him again and make him buy another dog for the careless owner. Who should also be charged with gross negligence and fined. Too confusing? Such is the liberule ‘law’.

    • Doug

      Kill the dog. Only solution!

      • heroay

        Doung?? The criminally deranged brain at work. Lock yourself and melt the key.

  • DisqusId2012

    This is the warning shot Joe Botox Biden said to make with your shotgun from your balcony…

  • Jose CUnha

    …as long as the bill is worded to prevent citizens trying to protect themselves from being charged with brandishing or under the same laws as criminals using a gun in the commission of a crime, I support it. Not really an advocate of warning shots, but also don’t want to see people trying to prevent violence by using their weapons as a deterrent serving sentences as felons.

  • Rich7553

    Something everyone in this discussion needs to consider – it’s quite easy for anyone to sit behind a keyboard and flap their jaws about their imagined shooting prowess when their own life is in imminent danger. Reality is seldom as we imagine it to be. You may be able to get 2″ groupings at 10 yards on a range, where there is no stress and you have the time and wherewithal to control your breathing, establish the perfect grip, set your stance, establish your sight alignment and sight picture, use a trigger reset technique to reduce your aim deviation between shots, and are wearing proper hearing and eye protection. It’s a non-stress situation.

    But instead, you’re out in your yard, possibly in darkened conditions, an assailant is approaching you, maybe with a weapon in hand. Your body will go into “body alarm response”. You can neither prevent nor avoid it. Even those who train under high-stress conditions cannot completely control it. So what happens? First, your body will experience an immediate adrenaline dump. Your pulse rate, blood pressure, and respiration rates will rise. Well, there goes your controlled breathing. You will lose fine motor control. Hope you flicked off that safety and had a round already chambered before you went outside. Oh, and remember that perfect grip you practiced at the range? Sorry Charlie. You will experience focused tunnel vision, and will be oblivious of others nearby, instead, seeing only your assailant. You don’t have any hearing protection on, but that’s okay, because in many case, you will experience auditory exclusion. You may not hear your assailant screaming surrender, nor the shots you, yourself fire. But you’ve got plenty of time, because you’ll also experience time dilation, the felling that everything is occurring is slow motion. Unfortunately, your reactions will be equally as slow or even worse because you will not be able to concentrate on what to do. And finally, assuming you still have enough faculties to take proper aim and pull the trigger, you’d better pray you don’t have a malfunction, because all the tap, rack, fire drills you practiced on the range may be unavailable to you in your stressed condition.

    And guess what? If you think the spirit of Wyatt Earp will descend upon you and you will rise to the occasion, guess again. What is much more likely is that you will make an error…like popping off a warning shot in the ground between you and your assailant. Congratulations. When you get sentenced to 20 years in the slammer, you can regale your cellmate about how you were just an innocent homeowner acting in self-defense.

    • Gh0zt36

      Also those who train at the range may be prone to attempt using the front and rear sight in a defensive situation . DON’T . It will take vital seconds out of your target aquisition time. Remember the ol saying ” When in a fight , use the front sight ” Meaning just line the front sight up with your target dont bother using your rear sight.

      If you train often your instinctive shooting stance will be enough to account for elevation and unless you’re really not doing it right all you should need is your front sight lined up with your target.

    • seazen

      Wow! Thank you for this highly unusual and welcomed discussion of the realities associated with the trauma of engagements using a firearm under stress. If this could be the basis of discussion whenever there are serious debates about the proper use of guns of all types, the training needed to use them effectively, and the “collateral damage” they may cause including accidents, suicide, and response to “threats”, we would all be better off.