House Bill 89 by Representative Neil Combee and Senator Greg Evers is on its way to the Governor. On April 3rd, 2014, HB-89 passed the Florida Senate by a vote of 32-7. In the Senate, 6 Democrats and 1 Republican voted against the bill:
Republicans voting against the bill were: John Legg (R-Lutz)
Democrats voting against the bill were: Oscar Braynon (D-Miami Gardens), Dwight Bullard (D-Cutler Bay), Arthenia Joyner (D)-Tampa), Gwen Margolis (D_Miami), Jeremy Ring (D-Margate), Chris Smith (D-Fort Lauderdale)
Having previously passed the Florida House by a vote of 93-24, the bill is now making its way to the Governor’s desk.
According to Marion P. Hammer, USF Executive Director and NRA Past President, “HB-89 is a bill to stop abusive prosecutors from using 10-20-LIFE to prosecute people who, in self-defense, threaten to use deadly force against an attacker as a means to stop an attack. Some anti-gun, anti-self-defense prosecutors have been abusing the 10-20-LIFE law to prosecute average citizens who displayed a weapon or gun in self-defense to make an attacker back off. Average citizens who never would have been in the system if they had not been attacked and in fear for their own safety, are being persecuted and prosecuted for defending themselves.”
“Because citizens took responsibility for their own safety, some prosecutors treat them like criminals and make them victims of a judicial system. 10-20-Life was passed to stop prosecutors and judges from slapping gun-wielding criminals on the wrist so they could quickly clear cases. The 10-20-Life law was never intended to be used against citizens who, in an act of self-defense, threatened the use of force to stop an attacker, including the unwise use of a warning shot. Yet, that’s what some prosecutors are doing. They are willfully and knowingly violating the intent of the law,” notes Hammer
Nothing in SB-448 and HB-89, the House Companion, allows warning shots nor do they promote or encourage warning shots.
Warning shots are not safe. Nonetheless, when people are in fear for their lives or the lives of loved ones, they might fire a warning shot rather than shoot someone. People make mistakes and do irrational things when in fear of death or injury. That doesn’t mean they should go to prison for 20 years when there was no injury or harm done.
Warning shots are an unsafe result of the glorification of such conduct in movies and on TV. No one is recommending warning shots.
Nonetheless, a father should not be prosecuted under 10-20-Life for firing a warning shot. No harm was done yet a father was sent to prison for 20 years for firing a warning shot to stop an attacker from harming his daughter.
A mother should not be charged under 10-20-Life for firing a warning shot to stop an attack by an abusive ex-husband. It caused no injury and no harm yet she was prosecuted and sent to prison for 20 years. These are not isolated cases.
The simple truth is the intent of the 10-20-Life law is being violated. The law was intended to be used to lock up criminals who use guns during the commission or attempted commission of crimes.
It was intended to stop prosecutors and judges from slapping gun-toting criminals on the wrist so they could quickly clear cases.
The 10-20-Life law was never intended to be used against citizens who, in an act of self-defense, threatened the use of force to stop an attacker, including the unwise use of a warning shot. Yet, that’s what some prosecutors are doing. They are willfully and knowingly violating the intent of the law.
The cold hard reality is that some prosecutors are treating law-abiding people like criminals. People who never would have been in the system had they not been attacked and in fear for their own safety are being prosecuted. Self-defense is not a crime, it is a right and prosecutors are trampling those rights.
The threat of force in self-defense should have the same protection as actually shooting someone in self-defense. You should not be required to shoot an attacker to have the protection of the law.
The issue is not warning shots, it’s about protecting people from the abuse of prosecutorial discretion.
Marion P. Hammer is a past president of the National Rifle Association and executive director of Unified Sportsmen of Florida.
The 10-20-LIFE Law is a Minimum Mandatory law that mandates specific penalties for criminals who use guns to commit crimes:
10 years in prison for pulling a gunduring the commission of a crime.
20 years in prison for shooting a gun during the commission of a crime.
25 years to Life in prison if you shoot someone during the commission of a crime.
For more information on Florida’s 10-20-Life go here: 10-20-Life – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia