Representatives Combee Files Bill in Defense of Life, Home, and Property
Representative Edwards Named Prime Co-Sponsor
Tallahassee, Fla. – Representative Neil Combee (R-Polk City) today filed House Bill 89, intended to restore the rights of Floridians to protect themselves, their homes and their property. Representative Katie Edwards (D-Sunrise) is the bill’s prime co-sponsor. The bipartisan legislation decriminalizes the act of displaying a firearm with the intent of deterring violent attacks, and reforms Florida’s “10-20-Life” sentencing law in self-defense cases.
Under current law, a law-abiding citizen who displays or draws a firearm, or fires a “warning shot” in an attempt to prevent an attack, faces arrest, prosecution and prison. This, Combee argues, is wrong. “Too often the victim of a crime gets charged with a crime because he chose to defend himself. Law-abiding citizens shouldn’t be arrested, prosecuted and sent to prison because they refuse to be victims,” Combee said.
Combee decided to file HB 89 after learning about the cases of Marissa Alexander, Ronald Thompson, Lee Wollard and others, which he called “significant negative, unintended consequences” of 10-20-Life. He added, “10-20-Life was intended to apply to career thugs who rob liquor stores. Now, we’re sending people to prison for twenty years for firing warning shots in their own homes. That’s wrong.” Combee also noted that the 10-20-Life reform was one of the recommendations made last year by Governor Scott’s “Task Force on Citizen Safety and Protection,” which included legislators, prosecuting attorneys, police chiefs and Sheriffs.
Representative Katie Edwards, the bill’s prime co-sponsor, says the bill corrects obvious shortcomings in current law. “Government’s most important job is to protect its citizens, and there’s no better way to do that than to protect their fundamental, constitutional right to protect themselves. We should be standing with victims, not prosecuting them,” Edwards said. She added, “Self-defense cases aren’t like robberies or murders, where criminal intent is obvious. In self-defense cases, it’s just common sense that judges should be able to look at all of the relevant facts in determining a proper sentence.”
For more information on the bill, please contact Representative Combee’s Legislative Assistant, Barbara Blasingame.