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Florida to Expand Stand Your Ground Law to Include Warning Shots

Florida to Expand Stand Your Ground Law to Include Warning Shots

Florida’s Stand Your Ground law has been made famous due in large part to the high profile cases of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, young, black, and unarmed teenagers who were shot and killed by (not black) men claiming they were threatened. The law, a result of legislative efforts promoted by right wing policy group American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), does not require a person to first retreat before resorting to violence. Since its passage in 2005, application of the law has had various outcomes, leading to criticisms that the defense is inconsistently applied and has given many a license to kill.

Statistics show that the stand your ground defense has been extremely successful for those who have used it. Nearly 70 percent of defendants, who have ranged from gang members to grandparents, have avoided prosecution under the statute. In nearly 75 percent of the cases where the victim was black, the defendant received no punishment (as opposed to 59 percent if the victim was white). However, the one thing that was consistent in all the cases is that someone was either injured or killed.

When using a gun under Stand Your Ground, someone must be injured or killed. Otherwise the defendant faces a mandatory minimum sentencing under another Florida law.

Florida Statute 775.087, the so-called “10-20-Life” bill, makes it a felony to brandish a firearm or fire a gun outside of the purpose of self-defense. Each offense carries a minimum sentence of ten years. If the shot hits someone, the defendant risks 25 years to life in prison. In other words, if a person wishes to use Stand Your Ground, they can’t fire a warning shot and must shoot with the purpose to kill.

Take the case of Marissa Alexander.

Just nine days after giving birth to her child, Marissa Alexander’s husband beat her, something he had done repeatedly during their marriage and while she was pregnant. Marissa ran into the garage to try to get away from him. Finding the garage locked and unable to get out, the licensed gun owner with a concealed weapons permit, she grabbed a gun from the car and fired a warning shot to scare him away. The judge rejected Alexander’s Stand Your Ground defense, claiming that she must not have been in genuine fear of her life since she reentered the house. Ignoring the years of domestic abuse, the fact that the garage was locked, and that the law does not require retreat, Alexander was ordered to stand trial.

She was sentenced to 20 years in prison under the 10-20-life bill.

In another case, U.S. Airman Michael Giles was attending a party at a friend’s house while stationed in Tampa. While there, an argument broke out and devolved into an all out brawl. Unable to find his friends, he went back to his car to get his gun, for which he had a concealed weapons permit, and placed it in his pocket. He went back to try and find his friends and was randomly attacked, punched and fell to the ground. Fearing for his life, he fired his gun and hit the leg of his attacker, and bullet fragments injured three other men. The prosecution claimed there was no right to self defense when firing into a crowd. Giles is now two years into a 25 year prison sentence.

In light of the Marissa Alexander case, the Florida legislature has decided to modify the Stand Your Ground law to include the ability to fire warning shots. People will still have to comply with the other provisions of the law, which requires fear of bodily injury or death and be involved in lawful activity. However, if passed, it will now be legal to brandish a firearm and fire a shot in order to scare off an attacker.

Marissa Alexander was granted a new trial on appeal, which is slated to begin the end of this month. Even though the proposed law was inspired by her situation, it will do nothing for her situation if passed. The provision is to clarify that people are not required to “shoot to kill” in order to defend themselves. The law is supported by the NRA.

There is still be no requirement to retreat, however.

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136 comments

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6:04PM PDT on Mar 31, 2014

Really James?

Care to elaborate how you could come to such a conclusion?

I don’t seem to see anything defeatist at all in my comments or any sign of weakness either.

As for giving up you haven’t a clue what I have faced in my lifetime, and I am getting on in my years so there is another empty claim.

As for leading a sheltered life, or being a wealthy elite person again, your thought processes indicate that they are rather narrow in scope.

But please do show us how you could or would come to the conclusions you just made.

5:33PM PDT on Mar 31, 2014

michael t your thoughts come from a defeatist mind and weakness and very few people outside of NJ and NY will fall for it you seem like someone who gave up long ago. maybe you are leading a sheltered life one one the wealthy elite.

5:10PM PDT on Mar 31, 2014

yes

1:42PM PDT on Mar 29, 2014

Michael t you are not practical. lets not forget that you must have a clean record in order to get a carry permit in most of the states that allow it no felonys at all . but you would even not allow this who are you to decide who can protect themselves and have protection or not . it

1:37PM PDT on Mar 29, 2014

yes

11:24AM PDT on Mar 27, 2014

James, I am overwhelmed by your use of slogans,
while forgiving about your inability to put words together, or spell them, as I will give you the benefit of the doubt that you may have typed this on a cell phone rather than a computer keyboard probably while riding your bicycle.

liberal corrupt NJ
grave bodly harm
all the burden on me.
how about sentalmemtal value
this would not happen in a right to carry state.

still were enough patriots to … put the second amendmendent in (is that what those few patriots were all about? A second Amendment right?)

blame your crooked corrupt leaders that took what ever right to be armed away from you (What ever right? Do you mean all rights altogether or the right to be out on the streets with loaded weapons whenever you want?)

two kinds of people those that do not mind being victims and dieing and those that want a fighting chance to live and have righteousness prevail (code for kill anybody I disagree with, and half just wakes up each morning not minding being victims and dying? Really?)

look its either yin or yang

you must get over the fear of shooting yourself or perish (really?)

if I every get the money I will move to florida fast (code for "so I can kill someone and get away with it?")

3:28PM PDT on Mar 26, 2014

here in liberal corrupt NJ where I live a gang tried to rob my bike maybe even do me grave bodly harm and because no one can have a carry permit except police and guards and maybe a few rich well connected . I had to out wit them and barely was able to get away some foolish woman on a prevous post on this said I should have bicycle insurance. which now would put all the burden on me. and maybe I would get half of what I paid how about sentalmemtal value how about losing my life this would not happen in a right to carry state also Robert h said that almost everyone back when we won independence was loyalist yes there were some of those and some traitors and every thing in between. but there still were enough patriots to fight in the revolution and put the second amendmendent in as far as the Canadians I see here that do not like like that americans can have handguns and carry them. blame your crooked corrupt leaders that took what ever right to be armed away from you I remember when it happened in 1972 or 73 as I said before there are two kinds of people those that do not mind being victims and dieing and those that want a fighting chance to live and have righteousness prevail its not possible in corrupt NJ you have to be the victim here. look its either yin or yang you must get over the fear of shooting yourself or perish if I every get the money I will move to florida fast

2:58PM PDT on Mar 26, 2014

yes

3:58PM PDT on Mar 25, 2014

Typical of all of your posts is that they are devoid of any useful information. Your conservative strategy is, as usual, an effort to obfuscate reality and truth by injecting talking points lifted from extremely biased sources which have proven incapable of presenting anything useful. Again, you avoid providing sources for this distorted material you call information as I and others have noted again and again over the past two years. Pard chokes up this nonsense on a regular basis and can’t back a thing he claims.

He knows the moment he offers supports for any of this nonsense he will have outed himself for who he is. Enjoy the music pard.

12:05PM PDT on Mar 25, 2014

Typical reply to my post are void of anything specific to my post. The liberal strategy here is to obfuscate facts by inject a host of other issues unrelated to the subject that cannot be defended.

Giggles claims I have been proven wrong on hundreds of issues yet cannot name even one to back such a claim.

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