Society

Florida Legislation Moves Forward Allowing Citizens to Brandish Weapon, Fire Warning Shots to Stave Off Attackers

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Since the George Zimmerman trial captured the attention of the nation—or at least the voyeuristic part of the nation that is psyched for murder trials like Zimmerman’s, Casey Anthony’s, or the Menendez Brothers’—much has been made about controversial “Stand Your Ground” laws.

The case of Marissa Alexander was offered up as the example of how “Stand Your Ground” is a law that only really applies to white people and that it should go away. Florida, however, has addressed the injustice dealt to Ms. Alexander in a way that will make gun-control advocates very unhappy.

According to Fox News, a recent bill offered up in state legislature has been “designed to make it clear people can show a gun, or even fire a warning shot, without drawing a lengthy prison sentence.” The bills in Florida’s House (HB 89) and Senate (SB 488) have been voted out of committee, although similar bills last year “went nowhere.”

Critics of the bill say that the arguments for these bills have been terribly one-sided. State Attorney Bill Cervone told Fox News that those convicted for brandishing a weapon are protected by “Stand Your Ground” and if they end up incarcerated it is because the courts rejected the self-defense claim.

However the media attention given to the Alexander case seemingly refutes Cervone’s assertion. Alexander had both a concealed weapons permit and a restraining order against her ex-husband when he forced himself into her home. Because Alexander left her home—leaving her children in the house with her ex-husband—to retrieve the weapon, it was ruled that “Stand Your Ground” didn’t apply.

Yet, her husband had admitted to both beating her and threatening to kill her prior to this altercation, and even said that had the children not been there he’d have “taken the gun” from Alexander and beat her again. Alexander’s conviction was tossed out on appeal and she faces a new trial in March.