I’m sorry NRA, but I’m dead-set against you on this one:
Florida lawmakers are advancing legislation that would expand the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law by making it legal to fire a warning shot at a would-be attacker.
The so-called warning shot bill was voted out of the Senate judiciary committee on Tuesday, clearing a key hurdle on the way to a full vote. A companion bill has also been introduced in the lower chamber.
Proponents of the measure, including the National Rifle Association, say it would plug a hole in Florida’s Stand Your Ground law that exposes people to lengthy prison sentences for brandishing and firing a weapon at an assailant threatening to attack them.
Current law gives people the right to use deadly force without retreating to protect themselves from imminent deadly danger or great bodily harm. The bill would amend the state’s justifiable-use-of-force statutes so that they apply to threats of force as well.
“Threatening to use deadly force to stop a violent attack is not aggravated assault,” Marion Hammer, a veteran NRA lobbyist in Florida, told the Tampa Tribune. “It’s self-defense,” she said.
Let’s first be honest about what this law really is, and then address the kind of problems it will create instead of solve.
This bill should be titled the “Damn, We’re Sorry Marissa Alexander Is Going To Prison And We Want to Pander For Votes” Bill.
Marissa Alexander is the Florida woman who got into a fight with her abusive husband Rico Gray, went into the garage and retrieved her pistol from her car, and then reentered the home. She then fired a “warning shot” at Gray that entered the wall behind his head.
Alexander then allegedly met with Gray despite court orders to stay away from him in an attempt to influence his testimony in court, and was later arrested for meeting with and assaulting him a second time before her trial on the initial shooting charges. She twice tried to claim a “stand your ground” defense, and it was rejected by the original trial judge and on appeal.
This proposed law is nothing more or less than an attempt to capitalize on the anger of those who think Alexander is getting a raw deal for a prison sentence that could be 20 years… or more.
Under current law, deadly force—and discharging a firearm during an altercation is the use of deadly force—may only be used to protect those in imminent danger of great bodily harm or death. The current law makes perfect sense, and is the standard across the nation as a result.
Marion Hammer is being dishonest when she says, “threatening to use deadly force to stop a violent attack is not aggravated assault.”
Shooting a weapon in a confrontation, no matter where it is aimed, is the actual use of deadly force. Period. End of story.
Claiming that the actual use of deadly force is just the “threat” of deadly force isn’t just rhetorically false, but demonstrably false as a matter of science. When that gun fires, the dense metal projectile driven out of the barrel at velocities ranging from hundred to over a thousand feet per second is a lethal projectile. This is simply not up for debate.
What is up for debate is the wisdom of telling people that they may use this undeniably lethal force to communicate, which is precisely what a “warning shot” bill is advocating.
It is saying that you may fire a bullet as punctuation at the end of a sentence.
Stop or I will kill youBANG
Leave me aloneBANG
Get away from herBANG
Firearms are not rhetorical devices.
Firearms are tools.
In a legitimate self-defense situation, firearms have a very well-defined and culturally-agreed upon standard across this nation, even in “anti-gun” areas, and even by those who dislike firearms. In situations where someone is an immediate and credible threat to the life of another human being, the use of a firearm to stop the threat is justified.
The “Damn, We’re Sorry Marissa Alexander Is Going To Prison And We Want to Pander For Votes” Bill not just allows, but encourages people to fire “warning” shots into the air, into walls, or into the ground, shots that they should not be firing at all.
Warning shots don’t defend lives, but they do threaten them.
That shot fired up into the air must come down, and dozens of people are killed every year from this kind of shooting. Bullets fired into walls easily penetrate most interior walls and many kinds of exterior walls, and can penetrate a dozen or more layers of sheetrock. An average 9mm FMJ pistol bullet fired in the direction of an average stick-built home covered in vinyl siding can very easily go through the entire house if not stopped by an appliance or innocent person inside. Shots fired into asphalt, concrete, and packed-down earth can ricochet and travel for hundreds of yards at lethal velocities.
Little Timmy down the street is just as dead, whether you meant your shot to be “just a warning,” or not.
Like most legislation written to address a single perceived injustice, this is bad bill. Unlike most other bad bits of legislation, this one is almost guaranteed to lead to to the loss of life.