Action Needed - Florida Bill to Protect Right to Self-Defense


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StogieC
March 16, 2013, 05:14 AM
Florida Carry Bill to Protect People Who Act in Self-Defense from Prosecution
Florida Carry needs your help!

Florida Carry has submitted a “Defense of Life, Home, & Property” bill to the Florida legislature for consideration. In the Senate, this bill is called SB 1446 and is being sponsored by Sen. Thad Altman. On the House side, the bill is called HB 1047 and is being sponsored by Rep. Neil Combee.

The bill comprises two main initiatives. The first is a defensive display provision, aimed at decriminalizing the act of displaying a firearm in order to deter an assailant. Currently, a law-abiding citizen who refers to, shows, or draws a firearm in an attempt to scare off an attacker faces arrest and prosecution under Florida law. As many firearms instructors will attest, shooting one’s attacker in clear cut self-defense situations often results in less of a legal liability than scaring him off by displaying the firearm. This has resulted in the unwarranted “shoot first” reputation Florida has garnered in the anti-gun press.

Dr. Gary Kleck, noted researcher at Florida State University has found that in the majority of defensive gun uses, the gun is never fired. Upon the sight of an armed citizen, the criminal most often flees. However, Florida prosecutors have made this a crime. They have argued that the display of the weapon was an aggravated assault, and because the criminal was not given a chance to actually injure a victim and thus display his criminal intent, the display of a firearm was not lawful self-defense. When the victim displays a firearm, the criminal retreats, calls 911, and proceeds to tell his version of the facts first, while the citizen is still calming down from the threatening encounter. The state attorney reviews the case, and because no violence actually occurred between the parties, because of the defensive display, the state charges the real victim with a crime. The absurd result here is that incidents that could be prevented by the defensive display of the firearm instead lead to a shooting, and possibly a death. Florida Carry’s defensive display language will allow persons who have the right to use force, but not necessarily deadly force, the ability to display their firearm in self-defense. Such a change by the Legislature will avoid some self-defense shooting cases and turn them into cases where no shots are fired, or at most a warning shot is used to protect the innocent. Then a person will not have to deal with the mental toll of taking a human life in order to avoid charges for aggravated assault.

The second initiative is an exception in the 10-20-LIFE sentencing mandate for cases in which self-defense is found to be the intent of the accused. While the intent of 10-20-LIFE was to discourage firearm use in criminal enterprises, it has been used very differently. Prosecutors now seek to apply 10-20-LIFE even when there is no other underlying crime. This means that a person who attempts to act in self-defense, but is judged later to have not done so properly, or made some other mistake, is treated not as a law-abiding citizen who showed a weapon mistakenly, but as a person with the criminal intent to use a weapon to further their crime. These laws also increase the felony level of the offense charged based on the fact a firearm was used, even if it is used in a case of good faith self-defense.

The other problem with the current minimum mandatory laws is the imposition of an enhanced sentence based on the number of rounds a gun’s magazine holds. This is another example of unintended consequences. The law was passed in large part to stories of combat drug traffickers who were using larger capacity magazines. While there is no clear evidence of this happening except in the movies, the legislature felt that the use of larger magazines by criminals should allow for a sentencing enhancement. The additional penalty is twenty years instead of three. Florida Carry’s bill simply restores sentencing discretion to the presiding judge under very limited circumstances involving evidence of self-defense and clarifies language defining “unlawful activity” by which a person’s sentence could be subject to mandatory minimums and a denial of their right to self-defense.
The bill sponsors and Florida Carry asks our members and supporters to write, send e-mails, and call their state representatives to urge the widest possible support of HB 1047. Please help us help you. Call or write as soon as possible in order to move this bill along through committee assignments so it meets the full House before this year’s legislative session comes to a close. Particularly ask that the chairs of the committees to which the bills have been assigned allow the bills to come before the committees so that they may be considered.

E-mail Helper (feel free to cut, paste, and edit to suit)
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SUBJECT: Support HB 1047 – Support Defense of Life, Home, & Property


Dear Representative,

This e-mail is to express my support for House Bill 1047, Defense of Life, Home, & Property. As a law-abiding and responsible firearms owner, I believe that Florida’s reputation as a “shoot first” state is completely unwarranted, and I should not face arrest and prosecution for choosing not to shoot an attacker. Nor should I face mandatory minimum sentencing for simply attempting to defend myself. I respectfully ask that you wholeheartedly support this bill.

Please take the time to read this bill, and urge its immediate scheduling in committee. The goals of the bill are to prevent the needless taking of life and to protect law-abiding citizens from being prosecuted and sentenced unjustly. These are worthy goals which protect Floridians like me, and I support them. Please join me in support of this good bill.

Please support HB 1047!

Respectfully yours,

<your name>



About: Florida Carry, Inc. is a non-profit, non-partisan, grassroots organization dedicated to advancing the fundamental rights of all Floridians to keep and bear arms for self-defense as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I Section 8 of the Florida Constitution. Florida Carry stands only to represent our supporters, members, and the over 7-million gun owners of Florida. We are not beholden to any national organization’s agenda that may compromise that mission.

Florida Carry works tirelessly toward striking down ill-conceived gun control laws that have been proven to provide safe havens to criminals and be deadly to law-abiding citizens.

Florida Carry, Inc.
www.FloridaCarry.org
Phone: 850-270-7486
Fax: 678-359-9816 ###
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