Florida’s annual Second Amendment battle is underway, highlighted by a National Rifle Association-backed bill that would let people fire warning shots when attacked, reports the Orlando Sentinel. The change would broaden the “stand your ground” law, which allows anyone in fear of death or serious injury to use deadly force against a suspected attacker. If passed, brandishing a firearm and firing warning shots to scare away an attacker will be legal.
The warning-shot bill stems from the conviction of Marissa Alexander, a Jacksonville woman sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot during an incident of alleged domestic violence. An appeal court overturned the conviction, and she faces a new trial. “We’re trying to get some protection for the people who find themselves in a bad spot and don’t want to shoot somebody. Whatever we do here won’t change the circumstances of any case,” said bill sponsor, state Rep. Neil Combee. “As it stands right now in ‘stand your ground,’ you have to shoot somebody.” Police departments prohibit firing warning shots, in part because stray bullets endanger bystanders.