Florida: Altered Warning Shot Bill Gaining Traction

Post Date: November 10, 2013

Rep. Combee Fla.

Rep. Neil Combee, R-Polk City

(Tallahassee.com/State News Service) — A measure that would grant immunity to people who show guns or fire warning shots in self-defense is moving in the Florida House after an overhaul that could make it more palatable to potential foes.

 The so-called “warning-shot” bill, HB 89 by Rep. Neil Combee, R-Polk City, has a new name and would amend a different law if passed — and has already has gotten further during this legislative season than in the last.

 Combee sponsored the bill last year after learning about the case of Marissa Alexander, a Jacksonville woman who was sentenced to 20 years under the 10-20-Life sentencing law for firing a gun into a wall during a dispute with her husband. Combee said Alexander’s sentence was an example of the “negative unintended consequences” of the sentencing law.

Under the 10-20-Life law, possessing a gun while committing certain crimes is punishable by at least 10 years in prison, discharging a gun while committing those crimes is punishable by at least 20 years in prison.

As cases like Alexander’s have surfaced, so has the will to add the threat of deadly force to the use of deadly force in Florida law. Combee can reel the cases off. So can Greg Newburn, Florida project director for Families Against Mandatory Minimums.

“10-20-Life was never intended to be used against citizens who, in an act of self-defense, threatened the use of force to stop an attacker,” said National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer, who has worked with Combee since last year. “It was never intended to be used on citizens who in fear for their own safety threatened to use force to stop an attack. Yet that’s how certain prosecutors are using it — certainly not all, but one is too many.” Read article