If Florida seems like the wild west under the “stand-your ground” law, it just got a bit wilder in the Sunshine State.
Gov. Rick Scott (R) Friday signed Florida House Bill 89, which prevents criminal prosecution of anyone firing a warning shot when feeling threatened, expanding the state’s stand your ground law. The bill went into effect at signing.
The Associated Press reports the new law is inspired by Jacksonville woman Marissa Alexander, who is awaiting trial for firing a warning shot at her estranged husband. The man was not injured, but Alexander faces 20 years in prison under Florida’s 10-20-Life law, which requires mandatory sentences when a gun is fired and threatens another person’s life. Alexander is pleading self-defense under Florida’s “stand your ground” law and awaiting trial.
HB 89 was first passed in the Florida House 93-to-24 in March, with a mix of votes from Florida’s rural counties and urban centers. Rural representatives like Republican Reps. Halsey Beshears (Appalachicola) Marti Coley (Marianna), both in the Panhandle voted for the bill, as well as Reps. Michael Bileca (Miami) and Dana D. Young (Tampa), respectively.
The final House vote for bill passage was bipartisan, with votes from Democrats Alan B. Williams (Tallahassee), and Irv Slosberg (Boca Raton). The Florida Legislature has Republican majorities in both chambers of the Capitol in Tallahassee.
Alexander was initially denied her request for immunity, a denial which gained popular attention following the approval of the request for Sanford, Florida resident George Zimmerman after discharging his gun and killing Trayvon Martin.Gov. Scott is in a contentious bid for reelection against expected challenger, former Florida governor and Republican-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist. The Florida Democratic Primary is slated for August, and Florida gubernatorial general election for Tuesday, November 4.
Earlier in the month, Scott signed two other controversial measures into law, one legalizing cannabis for medicinal purposes and another tightening abortion restrictions.