A Republican legislator in Florida is proposing a bill that would exempt those firing warning shots from the state’s mandatory sentencing laws.
Like most bad laws proposed, this bill seems to be a knee-jerk response to one specific incident. Rep. Neil Combee (R-Polk City) appears to have narrowly crafted a bill to pander to supporters of Marissa Alexander, a woman recently granted a retrial after being given a 20-year sentence.
Alexander successfully left the scene of a domestic confrontation, retrieved a gun from her car, and then returned into the home to fire a shot towards her husband that fortunately lodged in the wall instead of the two children present. Alexander might have received a lesser sentence, had she not disobeyed the judge’s order to stay away from her husband, colluded with him to alter testimony, and then later physically assaulted him a second time.
The majority of states refuse to allow citizens to fire a warning shot for a very simple reason: if your life isn’t imminently threatened to the point you must fire rounds with intentional deadly intent towards another person, then you have no legal right to use a deadly weapon. You either have the need to use deadly force, or you don’t.
By firing warning shots, a shooter is admitting that the threat isn’t imminent enough to legally justify the use of deadly force.
In pushing this law, Rep. Combee is creating a gray in the law area and introducing a potentially deadly problem into Florida law. A law that excuses warning shots only creates a situation where more shots than are needed to stop a threat are allowed, increasing the likelihood that innocent citizens will be injured or killed. Bullets don’t care who or what they hit, and once they leave the muzzle, they will continue at high velocity until they are stopped by impacting against something or someone.
As strong Second Amendment supporters, Bearing Arms recognizes that the “well-regulated militia” that the Founders spoke of isn’t one that is restricted into obsolescence, but is instead a citizenry that is well-trained, competent at arms, and responsible in their decision-making.
Wildly firing “warning shots” without the justification for the use of deadly force serves to needlessly endanger the public, without protecting anyone.
We’d ask Combee to recall his ill-advised bill, which helps no one who legitimately has need of lethal force.