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Old January 8, 2014, 03:52 PM   #1
ClydeFrog
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Florida SB 0438; new bill to allow warning shots....

The Florida State Assembly has a new bill; SB488 that will allow armed citizens & W/concealed license holders to fire "warning shots" in lethal force events & not face formal criminal charges.
A few elected officials in Florida support this bill because of the recent high profile incident in NE Florida. A woman fired a warning shot at her husband during a domestic dispute. Reportedly, she ran into a garage, got a loaded handgun, told her husband to back off & fired a single round into the wall of the house. The couple then continued to fight & the male was shot.
The woman now has a new trial pending.

I, for one, do not support this new bill. I think there is a strong chance it will be used by many Florida residents to fire a gun during a road rage event or fight then claim they were threatened.
Some want this new law to be a part of Florida's "Stand Your Ground" laws. I'm not sure how the bill will address things like injuries caused by a stray bullet or any civil actions involved in a lethal force event.
Florida security officers(G license) & others who carry firearms IAW their jobs(PIs, bodyguards, etc) can not fire warning shots at all. FS493.
That to me is prudent because guns should be for lethal force only.

Recently, a young mother armed with a handgun shot several "warning shots" at a registered sex offender who was going near her kids. The felon ran away & to my knowledge the woman was not charged by law enforcement. I can understand the gun owner/mom's concern but shooting a gun off in public isn't safe or practical.
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Old January 8, 2014, 04:13 PM   #2
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I could see it also hurting a self-defense claim. The question is going to be asked, "Why didn't you fire a warning shot?"
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Old January 8, 2014, 04:22 PM   #3
ClydeFrog
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True...

I agree.
It's a dark, slippery road.
It's like the "non lethal" handgun rounds I saw marketed a few years ago.
I'm sorry, but if some violent thug or career criminal is breaking down my door or actively trying to kill me; game on!
I'm not using a loaded firearm as a prop or make threats.
Guns should be deployed for lethal force in situations where you need to defend yourself or others from a violent crime(armed robbery, rape, arson, terrorism, etc). You can not shoot wildly at a bad guy as they run off your property.
You also can't shoot warning shots at a thief who steals a restaurant tip jar(a real incident which took place in West Melbourne Florida).

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Old January 8, 2014, 04:27 PM   #4
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This seems like a bad, bad idea . . .
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Old January 8, 2014, 04:36 PM   #5
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Agreed that it's a stupid idea.

First, where's that shot going to go? You're still responsible for it. A warning shot fired in the direction of another doesn't care that it's a warning shot.

Second, why are you firing a warning shot? Guns aren't negotiating tools. If it comes to where a gun is a legal response to an attack then someone's life is indeed in danger and it's time to quit mucking about.

It seems to me that the only people who think warning shots are a good idea are those too influenced by Hollywood or those who just don't understand the concept of lethal force. Neither of those groups are ones for whom a lethal force event is likely to turn out well for anybody in the vicinity.
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Old January 8, 2014, 04:49 PM   #6
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Quote:
Recently, a young mother armed with a handgun shot several "warning shots" at a registered sex offender who was going near her kids. The felon ran away & to my knowledge the woman was not charged by law enforcement. I can understand the gun owner/mom's concern but shooting a gun off in public isn't safe or practical.
Actually in a similar incident in Fla. a woman was charged and sentenced to 20 years http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/11/29...eased-on-bond/ The case is still ongoing and is fueling the new law.

Motion for immunity and to dismiss :
http://www.scribd.com/doc/89763177/N...ion-to-Dismiss
Injunction against abusive husband:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/90281395/M...nst-Her-Abuser
Alleged victim disposition:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/90595503/M...im-Disposition
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Old January 8, 2014, 05:08 PM   #7
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I agree with others....it's a bad idea. That's why legislators may pass it. They just don't know. That bullet has to go somewhere.

My warning is presentation of a firearm.
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Old January 8, 2014, 05:51 PM   #8
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This is the epitome of false flag legislation.
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Old January 8, 2014, 09:16 PM   #9
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This is a horrendous idea. Do we know who the sponsors are?

The other side keeps blathering about "common sense gun safety" laws and our unwillingness to play ball. If we come out in opposition to this, it not only protects us, it makes us look like we're compromising.

Just a thought. We need to oppose it anyway.
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Old January 9, 2014, 01:16 PM   #10
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If we come out in opposition to this, it not only protects us, it makes us look like we're compromising.
Well said, Tom. These are exactly the kind of laws we don't need.
What are the basic laws of firearms saftey? Are they found anywhere in this piece of legislation? I would think the state NRA rep would be screaming at the top of his lungs by now.
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Old January 9, 2014, 01:30 PM   #11
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I did a little digging. It turns out that the bill is SB 0438, and it's a general bill by Thad Altman.

First: What do we know about Altman?
Second, the text of the bill can be found here: http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill...llText/__/HTML
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Old January 9, 2014, 03:53 PM   #12
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According to Wikipedia, he has a 100% rating from the NRA. This probably will do nothing to change that -- unfortunately.

It's an incredibly bad idea.
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Old January 9, 2014, 04:58 PM   #13
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Maybe they got the idea from good ol' uncle joe from the white house. He seems to think warning shots are enough to end any situation, but only if the warning shots are coming from a double barrel shotgun.
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Old January 9, 2014, 05:29 PM   #14
maestro pistolero
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It is as overreaching as the current draconian penalties for warning shots. At least change the penalty from the current felony with minimum mandatory sentencing to something in the middle that allows each unique circumstance to be weighed. Either extreme fails to serve justice.
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Old January 9, 2014, 06:46 PM   #15
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Mandatory sentencing law is the center piece IMO. Previously failed attempts to change the 10, 20 life law:: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/.../0775.087.html
and cases like the one I referenced in post #6 are stirring up support for the new bill as well.

Automatic sentences :
Quote:
1. 10-year prison sentence on anyone convicted of committing or attempting to commit any of the above felonies (with certain exceptions), while armed with a firearm or destructive device;

2. 20-year prison term if the accused fired the firearm; and

3. 25-year to life term if the accused discharged the firearm and killed or seriously hurt someone.
Even in cases of self defense or in Marissa Alexander's case, the mandatory sentencing allows no room in the law for a judge or jury to take circumstances into consideration if charged and convicted.

Talking about extremes? Seems a bit much to bypass a believed problem with mandatory sentencing laws.

Post note: Alexander was not a felon. Here conviction under the 10,20, life law seems a little fuzzy, but not done digging yet.
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Old January 9, 2014, 10:26 PM   #16
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Personally I think this is better than the current law that will get you a felony just for doing it regardless of outcome.

I say make the warning shots legal and deal with the issue of bystanders or other property getting hit the same way it has always been dealt with.
If someone fires a warning shot and hits an innocent, charge them for that.
But if they fire a warning shot, noone is hurt, no property is damaged and the attacker flees. Then I see no sense of sending them to prison just on that fact alone.

That way there is room for judgement on a case by case basis. Did they hurt anyone? No? Fine, no harm no foul. Yes? Then look into that as it's own issue.

Never been a huge fan of mandatory sentencing.
Isn't the whole point of a judge to look at the individual circumstances and decide the sentence, if any, based on that? If we just have mandatory sentences for everything, then why hire all these judges? Just put the charges in a computer and let it crunch the numbers on how many years each charge "requires". Efficiency.

Last edited by Nickel Plated; January 9, 2014 at 10:31 PM.
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Old January 9, 2014, 10:37 PM   #17
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Wreck-n-Crew wrote;
Quote:
Recently, a young mother armed with a handgun shot several "warning shots" at a registered sex offender who was going near her kids.
It is possible she fired the shots with the intent that they should hit him. Could a "miss" be construed as a "warning shot" ?
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Old January 9, 2014, 11:23 PM   #18
ClydeFrog
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Post 09, Post 17....

As for post #17, to my knowledge the gun owner/mother told the local media she fired warning shots at the RSO(sex offender) to scare him away from the kids. I'll do some research on the event but I recall that point.

EDIT: The Orlando area incident was 10/20/2013 in Ocoee Florida. The subject was a RSO named Bobby Lee Harris. Harris was reportedly peeping in the back windows of the woman's house. A male neighbor yelled at Harris & home owner/mother fired a few rounds into the ground near the RSO(Harris). Harris then fled the scene on a bike & was later arrested by local police.
www.Orlandosentinel.com

I'd add re; post #09 I think the Florida political officials wanted to address the event in NE Florida where a woman in a domestic violence event fired a warning shot.
To me it's like how the state officials in AZ changed the laws/use of lethal force standards after the Harold Fish court case. Under the new AZ laws, Fish would not have faced the same criminal charges.
FWIW; Harold Fish was given a chance at a new court trial but the DA's office & law enforcement decided not to push it. Fish was cleared but his personal life was ruined.

I see the rational behind wanting to prevent domestic violence or to aid armed citizens in critical incidents but allowing warning shots or other acts that involve weapons(brandish, open carry, etc) requires a lot of careful consideration & due diligence.
Elected officials & leaders need to be smart and avoid pandering to hot button issues.

Last edited by ClydeFrog; January 10, 2014 at 03:24 AM.
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Old January 10, 2014, 07:35 AM   #19
Hal
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Quote:
Personally I think this is better than the current law that will get you a felony just for doing it regardless of outcome.
Why not just strike out the part of the law that makes firing a warning shot a felony w/out passing a new law?
Could that be done?
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Old January 10, 2014, 08:23 AM   #20
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I've corrected the bill number in the thread title.

A few things in the language concern me. We have this in the preamble:

Quote:
Therefore, it is the intent of 49the Legislature that a person be immunized from prosecution if he or she acts in such a manner as to protect life, home, or property from an imminent or actual unlawful activity.
First off is the defense of property clause, with no real limitation given. The second is the definition of "unlawful activity."

Quote:
“Unlawful activity” means:

1) Commission of a crime involving the use or threat of violence.
2) Illegal distribution of a controlled substance; or
3) Use of a residence, commercial structure, or occupied vehicle to commit a crime involving the use or threat of violence or the illegal distribution of a controlled substance.
Then, on line 62:

Quote:
Use force sufficient to effect a lawful arrest.
So, does this authorize folks to take potshots at the drug dealer down the street? The provisions of this law are worryingly broad.
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Old January 10, 2014, 10:58 AM   #21
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I'm not understanding why there needs to be a law either banning or allowing warning shots. Generally they are a bad idea, but in certain scenarios they might be appropriate. A warning shot should be regarded in the same way as a miss, and carry the same responsibility. If deadly force is not justified, neither is a warning shot, but in situations such as domestic violence, where a family member may be very much more reluctant to kill another family member, such as the one mentioned, it might be preferable. To simply ban them and set a mandatory penalty without evaluating the individual situation is foolish.
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Old January 10, 2014, 11:22 AM   #22
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A miss is an accident. A warning shot deliberately launches a lethal projectile into the unknown. That is irresponsible. Bullets can travel long distances.

I would support the law if the gun has to be aimed at your own foot for the warning shot.
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Old January 10, 2014, 11:43 AM   #23
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Re: Post #20...

Tom Servo,

After reading the bill, I have the same concerns. I think it boils down to the interpretation of the following provision:
Quote:
(3) A person acting in defense of life, home, or property from an unlawful activity or the threat of an unlawful activity is immune from prosecution if he or she.... [verbally says he/she has a firearm, presents it, fires a warning shot.]
(emphasis mine)

What does it mean to "defend life, home, or property" from... a drug pusher? How does "illegal distribution of a controlled substance" conceivably threaten any of the three?

I'm likewise concerned that a court could take a broad interpretation of this provision, and not prosecute someone who fires a warning shot when a man merely approaches her in his yard and removes a plastic baggie from his pocket.

Warning shots can KILL INNOCENT PEOPLE. Legitimate protection of life and home from a dire threat is one thing; OTOH, drawing and firing a pistol should NOT be given the same effective legal status as making a 9-1-1 call to report a dope pusher.
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Last edited by carguychris; January 10, 2014 at 11:53 AM. Reason: minor reword...
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Old January 10, 2014, 12:02 PM   #24
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Quote:
A warning shot deliberately launches a lethal projectile into the unknown.
If you are responsible enough to be aware of what is behind a person you are shooting at, you should be responsible enough to be aware of where you are firing a warning shot. Why would anyone deliberately launch a lethal projectile into the unknown whether its to kill or as a warning shot?
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Old January 10, 2014, 12:07 PM   #25
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In a stressful situation, are you sure that you can predict safe projectile pathways? Straight up - then your head might work as a safe direction. Can you predict the bounce path?

It's not like you are shooting in a berm with high walls.

That's not really sensible.

I've seen a rifle round fired a target down range, hit something and come back at almost 180 degrees and clobber a guy in the head. Grace of God he wasn't totalled. He did take a nasty whack though.

The bill is moronic.
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