Perhaps receiving direct inspiration from the notorious case of Marissa Alexander, the Florida mother sentenced to 20 years for firing warning shot at her abusive husband, Gov. Rick Scott signed into law Friday an extension of the state’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law, which would cover warning shots.
According to insiders, the bill was written with the case of Alexander in mind. Alexander, 33, was found guilty of aggravated assault after firing what her defense claimed was a warning shot at the husband during a domestic dispute. An appellate court later overturned her conviction and ordered a retrial.
In a statement, Alexander’s lawyers said they “are grateful for the governor’s actions,” according to ABC News.
Prosecutors, however, say the law won’t help Alexander for two very important reasons:
- The law won’t be enacted retroactively, and;
- There’s evidence that suggests the shot she fired was not a warning. They say they can prove to a jury that Alexander left the home where the ex-husband was allegedly threatening her with physical violence and, instead of fleeing and calling the police, she returned with her firearm and fired a shot into the wall, endangering her ex-husband and her children.
“The new law, as it stands now, allows you to claim immunity from prosecution if you used or threatened deadly force,” Attorney Anthony Rickman told WTVT. “The problem was that under Florida’s Stand Your Ground laws, as it was originally, it only allowed you to use that defense if you used actual deadly force.”
Even many gun owners are gravely concerned that the law will inspire people to pull out an fire their weapons indiscriminately with little or no provocation then claim later they felt threatened.
“Bullets have to go somewhere,” Jason Collazo told WTVT. “It’s going to endanger people whether they’re firing into the air, into the ground, at a tree, they don’t know if that surface is going to ricochet, so it’s just not well thought out.”
Alexander, meanwhile, is awaiting a retrial and could still be imprisoned for 20 years if convicted. Prosecutors believe they have a strong case against Alexander.