'Warning shot' bill moves through Fla. legislature

Published On: Feb 20 2014 04:28:24 PM EST   Updated On: Feb 20 2014 04:53:29 PM EST


People who fire a warning shot instead of shooting someone would not be charged with aggravated assault and go to prison under legislation moving quickly though the state Legislature.

Supporters say the change is needed because some prosecutors don't understand the "stand your ground" legislation.

Marissa Alexander fired a shot that she claims was to scare off an abusive ex-husband. She got 20 years but she's being retried. Lee Wollard is in the same predicament, turning down probation because he didn't think he'd done anything wrong.

"We owe a duty to people like that to protect those who don't belong in prison until 2028 because they threatened use of force," said Rep Katie Edwards, D-Miami.

Legislation moving quickly at the Capitol clarifies "stand your ground." Many believe the law is already clear, but Marion Hammer of the National Rifle Association said a change is needed because some prosecutors, including the one who prosecuted Alexander, are misusing the law.

"If you actually shoot an attacker, the law protects you. But if you merely threaten to shoot an attacker, some prosecutors try to put you in prison," said Hammer.

But the legislation will do nothing for those people who are already serving prison time, only those going forward.

Prosecutors have reservations about the bill and sheriffs spent the week working against the change.

"I don't think you can safely shoot a warning shot in the city of Miami, or Jacksonville, or Tampa or St. Pete," said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

But pawn shop owner and gun shop dealer Mark Folmar said no one wants to shoot to kill if there's an alternative.

"I think anything that you could do short of shooting somebody is better than shooting somebody," said Folmar.

The legislation could be one of the first bills debated by the state House. The legislation encourages those already in prison to request clemency from the governor.


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