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Marissa Alexander’s Case Inspires Potential Changes In The Law

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By Connie K. Grier

Here’s a question…

How would you warn away a would-be attacker (given you were feeling THAT generous), someone who has a history of physical abuse?  Would you tell them “NO!”, “STOP!” or any of the other “warn words” that one is taught when taking a self defense course?

Would you get on the offensive and hit your would-be assailant, thereby being liable to earn assault charges for yourself?

Here’s an idea…

How about a warning shot?  You know; one could fire a warning shot into the ceiling, the floor, or any place that is in the opposite direction of the attacker.  Historically, firing warning shots has been accepted as a way to disperse a riotous crowd, scare an approaching animal, and to warn a human being intent upon harming you that they had better think twice before attempting to hurt you.

Marissa Alexander fired a warning shot to warn away her estranged husband who had documented instances of harming her.

Apparently, there are a few legislators that agree with this course of action.  NewsOne.com reports that Florida legislators are moving forward with a bill designed to make it clear that people can show a gun, or even fire a warning shot, and not receive a lengthy prison sentence.  This legislation would ensure that the same protections already in place under Florida’s “stand your ground” law to people who only threaten to use force. It would make sure that people who show a gun to warn an attacker away would be immune from Florida’s “10-20-Life” law, which requires anyone who shows a gun while committing certain felonies to be sentenced to 10 years in prison. If someone is shot and wounded, the sentence increases to 25 years to life.  Marion Hammer, representative for the National Rifle Association, believes that the law was put into place to reduce sentence reduction for individuals that use guns in the committing of criminal activity but is currently being used to punish people for “exercising self-defense”.

Some people, like Senator Chris Smith of Ft. Lauderdale, still have reservations about the proposed legislation; fearing that it might start “encouraging people to show or shoot firearms”.

What are your thoughts on warning shots?