DEFENSIVE DISPLAY: An Officer’s Two Cents on Florida’s New Law to Allow Warning Shots

Gun-FireFlorida is moving toward a “Defensive Display” law that includes the possibility of a warning shot or shots being acceptable as a part of self defense, if no innocents are injured.

Arizona passed a similar law several years ago after the aggressors in self defense situations were using the criminal justice system to have the defenders arrested on aggravated assault charges.  Arizona’s law does not include warning shots.

In the case that I know of, the aggressors were following the defender in a “road rage” scenario.  At one point, they pulled up along side of him, while traveling, and threw a beverage container at him with enough force that it cause a small cut.  When he stopped at a light, boxed in by traffic, two of them got out of their vehicle and started running toward him from a couple of cars back.  He held up his defensive sidearm for them to see, and they quickly stopped their aggressive actions and ran back to their vehicle.   Then they called 911.

He was also on  the phone to 911.  The police came to his house, and eventually arrested him (he thinks that it was because, under stress, he made a bad joke that offended the investigating officer).  He was going to trial, when the prosecution informed the defense that there was a third 911 call that confirmed the defender’s version of events.   The case was dismissed, but there was tremendous stress and expense involved.  The aggressors were never arrested or charged.

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With the Florida law, the most contentious issue is that of “warning shots”.  Here is a discussion of the issue from a retired State Patrol firearms instructor.  I have edited it a little for spelling, with permission of the author:

I think defensive display can have a place in a self defense situation.

More then one criminal assault has been stopped when it has become know that victim is armed.

Warning shots are a lot tougher because of the high probability of some thing bad happening.

When I was on my Department’s firearms and use of force committee, we had a long discussion on warning shots. Some were for forbidding  …

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