Florida Moves Closer to Expanding 'Stand Your Ground' Law

Could this new, bipartisan bill prevent cases like Marissa Alexander's?

Posted: 04/15/2014 06:45 PM EDT

A new "warning shot" bill that would directly impact cases like Marissa Alexander's awaits the signature of Florida's Gov. Rick Scott.

The "warning shot" legislation, which recently passed the State Senate and has already passed the state's House, would grant immunity to people like Alexander, who have no prior criminal records and have fired a warning shot or threatened the use of deadly force in self-defense.

Alexander was sentenced to 20 years in prison last year after firing a shot at her estranged, abusive husband. The Jacksonville, Florida, mother's "Stand Your Ground" case was widely criticized after the court denied her immunity under the controversial self-defense law. An appeals court has ordered a new trial, in which Alexander could receive a 60-year sentence.

“This is about self-defense,” the bill’s sponsor in the State Senate, Sen. Greg Evers (R-Baker), told the Miami Herald. “It’s one more step forward for people to protect themselves.”

The bill received bipartisan support and is heavily backed by powerful gun lobby group the NRA and local groups like Florida Carry. However, six Democrats, including Sen. Arthenia Joyner of Tampa, voted against the bill.

“A Pandora’s box is being opened again,” Sen. Arthenia Joyner told the Miami Herald. “I have great apprehension about what’s inside.”

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(Photo: REUTERS/Susan Cooper Eastman)

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