Senate Passes 'Warning Shot' Bill

By: Allison Nielsen | Posted: April 3, 2014 12:30 PM

A “warning shot” bill to grant immunity to Florida gun owners who point their defensive handgun at an attacker was approved Thursday by the Florida Senate, 32-7.

After a year of headlines involving widespread media coverage of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, guns have been a hot topic during the  2014 legislative session.

SB 448, proposed by Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker, was inspired by the case of Marissa Alexander, a Jacksonville woman who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a gun near her estranged husband during an altercation.

SB 448 would grant immunity to Florida gun owners who point their defensive handgun at an attacker. The bill also intends to fix issues that arise due to the Florida law which requires mandatory sentencing for certain gun crimes.

Under Florida’s “10-20-Life” law, certain gun crimes can be punishable by at least 10 years in prison and others may be punishable for 20 years or longer if the weapon is actually fired.

The “warning shot” bill would provide criminal and civil immunity to those who threaten to use force “if the threat was made in a manner and under circumstances … had force actually been used.”

Evers’ bill would ensure that these individuals would not be sentenced to the mandatory minimum sentences as dictated by the 10-20-Life law.

Some lawmakers expressed hesitation over the bill. Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, said passing the legislation was akin to opening Pandora’s Box. “I just don’t know what’s in it,” she said.

Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, pointed to cases like Trayvon Martin, who was shot by neighborhood watch officer George Zimmerman, as reasons why he couldn’t get on board with the bill.

“Trayvon Martin did nothing to anyone ... but because of the effects of ... this [Stand Your Ground] law, was victimized on trial for everyone to see,” he said.

But for Evers, the bill isn’t about “warning shots.” It's about a larger issue in the Sunshine State: self-defense.

“This [bill] is about self-defense,” he said Thursday. “This is about the right thing to do ...This is just one more step forward for citizens to protect themselves and hopefully they won't spend time in our state institutions.”

Evers’ bill has already gathered support from the National Rifle Association, which had urged its members to contact their legislators to get them to support it.

The House passed its "Warning Shot" bill, HB 89, on March 20, after a disruptive session in which Minority Leader Perry Thurston attempted unsuccessfully to repeal the state's Stand Your Ground law.

The measure will now head to Gov. Rick Scott.

Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen at or follow her on Twitter at @AllisonNielsen.


Comments (11)

12:03PM APR 6TH 2014
Ms. Joyner doesn't know what's in the bill! Apparently like so many other African Americans she has trouble reading. All these Democrats don't like it because it gives people protection from vicious kneegrow attacks. 9 of 10 interracial violent crime are committed by blacks against whites!!!
Bob Guzauskas
11:01AM APR 5TH 2014
I carry and I have taken live defense courses from 4 different instructors over 40 years. I have read M. Ayoob's books and others. NONE have ever advised a warning shot.

Bob Guzauskas
West Palm Beach
8:42PM APR 5TH 2014
Yes, yes, shoot first and let god sort the guilty children out . . . .

Pathetic . . . .
John Campbell
10:00AM APR 4TH 2014
It's about time. Finally some common sense. It's bad enough we have violent crime victims without having government victimizing them again.
9:57AM APR 4TH 2014
Stage scenarios where Politicians would have burglars on their premises late at night and see what they might do in a state of panic? Doubt if they would first call the police knowing their arrival time! But if their children and spouse were in immediate danger would they not act accordingly? Situations Always vary, but common sense should always prevail. Basic laws should be known to all, so that they might act wisely and not harm innocent ones in ignorance.
Kowman Harsh
4:50PM APR 3RD 2014
"Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, said passing the legislation was akin to opening Pandora’s Box. “I just don’t know what’s in it,” she said."

The above is the comment of an idiot who is admitting she cannot read rather simple English.
1:26PM APR 3RD 2014
Sen Bullard, if St. Skittles hadn't sucker punched Zimmerman and go "MMA" on him, Martin would be alive and in jail for assault.
1:36PM APR 3RD 2014
This is a step in the right direction, along with our Stand Your Ground Law, perhaps crime will drop, once the criminals know that in Fla. we are allowed and able to defend ourselves and our property.
8:46PM APR 5TH 2014
Yes, yes, what's a few cheap human lives cut short . . .

Pathetic . . . .
12:05PM APR 6TH 2014
Tell that to the violent kneegrow attackers!
8:00PM APR 6TH 2014
Yes, yes, you must be right . . . . . shoot everyone not like yourself . . . . . and tell that to a young teenager who went to the store to buy some candy and got targeted by a self-styled "citizen vigilante" with now well-established abundant anger issues . . . oh that's right . . . you can't, because this type of mentality killed him . . .

Pathetic . . . .

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