Proposed by legislators that apparently have zero firearms training, Florida’s HB 89 is one of the most dangerous gun laws ever proposed:

Florida is considering a bill, HB 89 that would make it legal for citizens to brandish a firearm or fire a warning shot. In the past both of these actions were illegal and citizens, in turn were often prosecuted for attempting to defend themselves. The purpose of the new law is a testament to the fact that most people are able to defend themselves without fully using deadly force and are able to deter a violent attack by showing that they are armed.

The language of the proposed Florida law states:

 An act relating to defense of life, home, and property; creating s. 776.001, F.S.; providing legislative finding and intent; providing that the defensive display of a weapon or firearm, including the discharge of a firearm for the purpose of a warning shot, does not constitute the use of deadly force; providing immunity from prosecution for persons acting in defense of life, home, and property from violent attack or the threat of violent attack through certain displays of or uses of force; creating s.76.0011, F.S.; providing definitions; creating s.776.033, F.S.; providing for the justifiable defensive display of a firearm or weapon in certain circumstances; amending s. 776.06, F.S.; limiting a provision authorizing use of deadly force by law enforcement or correctional officers; creating s.775.0878, F.S.; providing an exemption from minimum sentence requirements related to use of a weapon or firearm for persons acting in self-defense or defense of others; authorizing a departure from minimum sentence requirements related to use of a weapon or firearm for persons convicted of certain offenses who meet specified requirements; providing an effective date.

This is an attempt to legislate away the laws of physics.

Discharging a bullet is now and will always be a “use of deadly force.” A small dense projectile fired on a ballistic trajectory will continue in motion until it impacts violently with something significant enough to absorb its energy, whether that “something” is the backstop on a range, the wall of a house, or the body of another living thing. Because of the dangers of firing bullets in suburban or urban environments where other people tend to occupy space (silly them), we have required that people not discharge a weapon unless their lives are in immediate danger.

It’s far safer require shots only to be fired at immediate lethal force threats, as “warning shots” tend to be fired:

  • up in the air, where the bullet will return to earth at a lethal velocity, we know not where, endangering innocent lives.
  • into the ground, which in many urban and suburban areas, is coated with concrete, asphalt, gravel or rock that can either cause a bullet to shatter or ricochet, or cause struck objects to become shrapnel that can injure, maim, and kill.
  • into walls, through floors, and ceilings, etc., into other rooms or buildings occupied by other people.

Provisions in the bill that allow citizens to display a firearm to thwart an attack are reasonable, and are—to the best of my knowledge—already legal under existing law. Provisions to alter mandatory sentencing guidelines are better handled in a more comprehensive manner, not in a slap-dash, piecemeal approach.

It is painfully obvious and even admitted by supporters that this bill was written in knee-jerk response to the case of Marissa Alexander, who retrieved her gun from her car after an argument with her abusive husband and fired a “warning shot” that embedded itself in the wall behind his head.

This is a dangerous bill that puts innocent lives downrange at risk, and must be defeated.