Firing a warning shot to fend off a threat may soon be legal in Florida

Expansion of "stand your ground" law debated

TAMPA - Concealed weapons instructor Jason Collazo of Shooting Sports in Tampa always gives his students reasons not to carry a concealed weapon. An error in judgment can land them prison.

"If you're in your car and you're just showing your firearm, well that's no longer in accordance with the law. You're intimidating that person by showing that person you have a firearm" said Collazo.

But a law that could make doing that legal along with firing warning shots has cleared a key committee in the Florida legislature. Backers, including the NRA, say innocent people in fear for their lives are being sentenced under the 10-20-life sentencing law.

"Understand, they haven't touched anybody. They haven't physically harmed anyone. But there are some that are serving 20 years in prison." said Republican State Rep. Neil Combee of Auburndale.

Combee and others cite the case of Marissa Alexander, a Jacksonville woman sentenced to 20 years for firing a shot over the head of her estranged and allegedly abusive husband.

Skeptics say the law is just a case of the powerful NRA trying to expand gun use under any circumstance.

But even NRA-sanctioned instructors in Florida will warn you against warning shots.

"Your target isn't what you're shooting at. You're firing your warning shot at something that is an unintended target, and you have no idea where that round is going to go or where those pellets are going to go. It's a bad idea all around," said Collazo.  

Alexander will receive a new trial in March and has been allowed to serve house arrest until then.

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