Updated By: Mike Vasilinda
January 8, 2014, 5:30pm
Prosecutors squared off today against the NRA and gun toting lawmakers who want to allow people to fire warning shots without being charged with a crime. Prosecutors say the legislation will do little when it comes to deciding who to prosecute.
Marissa Alexander is the poster child of what some are saying is wrong with the State's 10-20-Life law. She was sentenced to twenty years for firing a gun in the direction of her estranged husband and children.
"Something is wrong and something needs to be fixed and we think this bill does that," says Eric Friday, Florida Carry.
Her case was front and center at a legislative hearing over whether to allow people who fear for their safety to fire warning shots or display their gun, without being charged with a crime.
"Threatening to use deadly force to stop a violent attack is not aggregated assault, it is self defense," says Marion Hammer, Unified Sportsmen of Florida. "Self defense is not a crime."
Gainesville State’s Attorney finally had enough.
"Please don't characterize all of Florida's 2000 prosecutors as being some sort of renegade," says Bill Cervone, Prosecutor, 8th Judicial Circuit. "There is another side or nobody would have been arrested, nobody would have been before a court anyhow."
But the NRA says innocent people are going to jail and that the current law is sending a message that it's better to shoot to kill than to fire a warning shot.
"I mean the message is, if you're attack go ahead and shoot somebody, and that's the wrong message," says Hammer.
Prosecutors were blunt, telling lawmakers if they don't want people to get mandatory sentences for brandishing a gun then they need to take aggravated assault out of the 10-20-life statute.
The bill faces at least two more hearing in the Senate before a final vote.
CBS Miami News Copy
TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/AP) — There’s a push by some Florida legislators to make it clear that people can show a gun, or fire a warning shot, without getting a long prison sentence.
The bill, being pushed by some lawmakers, was partially inspired by the case of Marissa Alexander, who was given a 20 year prison sentence after firing a gun near her estranged husband during an argument. Alexander’s conviction was thrown out by an appeals court and she is scheduled to have a new trial this year.
A Senate committee on Wednesday voted in favor of the bill (SB 488) while a similar version has already moved (HB 89) through a House committee.
The bill would grant the same protections already in place under Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law to people who only threaten to use force.
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