Warning about interpretation of Florida's new 'warning shot' law

Bill signed into law by Governor Rick Scott

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - Some are warning about Florida's new 'warning shot' bill recently signed into law by Governor Rick Scott. The top prosecutor in Palm Beach County says the effectiveness and impact of this new law on the books may come down to how the public perceives it.

Governor Scott signed into law a controversial bill involving the state's 'Stand Your Ground' self-defense rules, making it legal - in some circumstances - to fire a 'warning shot' if they feel threatened.

"This does not give people license to start shooting indiscriminately into the air," said Dave Aronberg, Palm Beach County State Attorney. Aronberg said perception and understanding of this law is key. Anyone who fires such a 'warning shot', he said, must be able to show they had reasonable fear of serious injury. "It's got to be something real. It's got to be something tangible. It's got to be something imminent," he said.

Responsible gun owners fear that some gun-toting Floridians may interpret the new law incorrectly - as an invitation to open fire.

"The only problem that we're probably going to see is what the public's perception of the law actually is," said Chuck Papp, manager at Palm Beach Shooting Center in Lake Worth. "Time will tell."    

The bill was inspired by the case of Marissa Alexander, a Jacksonville woman who was faces 60 years in prison for firing a warning shot during a domestic dispute. Unfortunately for her, the new measure does not cover cases from the past.

The new 'warning shot' law took effect immediately with the governor's signature on Friday.

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