FLorida’s 10-20-Life

10-20-lifeWe have all seen the headlines, “Fla. Mom gets 20 years for warning shot”. We have all heard some of the stories trying to tie this long sentence to race. What most don’t know is the history behind what happened. I’m not talking about what happened to Ms. Alexander but the history behind the sentencing. What most fail to realize is that it wasn’t the crime she was found guilty of, it wasn’t her race and it had nothing to do with a warning shot. It has everything to do with a law.

Since the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, the public has focused largely on Florida’s stand your ground (SYG) law. While many consider this to be an unjust and vague law, to me there is a more unjust law on the books and one that existed before Florida’s SYG law.

Jeb Bush

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush

Back in the late 90’s there was a surge of violent felonies in Florida in which a gun was used. At the time, Florida had a mandatory sentence of 3 years when a gun was used in a violent felony. Jeb Bush, while running for governor, came up with and ran a campaign platform for the 10-20-Life law. When he was elected in 1999, the State Legislature passed Bush’s proposal and the law went into effect on July 1, 1999. In 2000 it was expanded to cover 16 and 17 year old’s who fire a gun and have prior criminal records.

What the law basically is, if you use a firearm during a forcible felony, you have 3 potential MANDATORY MINIMUM sentencing. Show a gun during the crime and you get 10 years; fire a gun and you get 20 years; and if you hit or kill someone with a gun and you get Life. Fire when there is more than one person present and you get consecutive sentences for each person.

Marissa Alexander 2There have been several people, many thought to be good people, who have been caught in this law. Ms. Alexander was not the first; she was though a high-profile national case. So much attention was brought on to her plight that the Florida Legislature even changed the law, now adding a “freebie” of a warning shot when the shooter feels justified.

Here are some of the cases:


Ronald Williams

Ronald Williams, Riviera Beach: Mr. Williams became aggravated when 4 gay men began looking at him. He pulled a gun and fired 5 shots into the air. He was convicted of 4 counts of aggravated assault and sentenced to 80 yrs in prison. Judge Joseph Marx disagreed with the sentence pointing out that some murder convictions don’t get 80 yrs.




Eugene Anthony Elsperman

Eugene Anthony Elsperman

Eugene Anthony Elsperman: He is a disabled man who is legally blind without glasses and suffers from ulcers on his legs preventing him from being able to run or make quick movements. Mr. Elsperman had gotten into a verbal argument with his ex-roommates. As the ex-roommates pulled out to leave they struck Mr. Elsperman with their car. While Mr. Elspermann struggled to get to his knees he noticed the reverse lights come on and he thought they were coming back to run him over. He pulled a gun and said he fired 4 shots below the car lights hoping to shoot out the tires. All shots missed. He was sentenced to two consecutive 20 year sentences. The ex-roommates have even said that it was an absurd amount of time.

Orville Lee Wollard

Orville Lee Wollard

Orville Lee Wollard, Davenport, FL: Was defending himself and his family from his daughter’s abusive boyfriend. He had several encounters with him before and in one encounter the boyfriend caused the stitches to rip from a recent surgery that Mr. Wollard had. When the boyfriend became abusive towards his daughter again he responded to his families cries for help by retrieving his handgun and confronted the boy in his living room. The teen punched a hole in the wall and moved toward Mr. Wollard. Mr. Wollard then fired a shot into the wall and the boy left.

The boyfriend  called the police after several weeks and was overheard by a neighbor saying “We’re going to put your dad away forever.” Mr. Wollard was convicted of aggravated assault and sentenced to 20 yrs. The officers investigating the case begged the government to recognize the circumstances of the case. Judge Jacobsen said: “This is obviously excessive….if it weren’t for the mandatory minimum….I would use my discretion and impose some separate sentence, having taken into consideration the circumstances of the event, but I think I am duty-bound to apply the law as it has been enacted by the legislature.”

Ronald Thompson2

Ronald Thompson

Ronald Thompson: A 65 yr old veteran who volunteered his time. He was waiting for a friend to come home and visited with the friend’s mother. The woman’s grandson came to the home with 3 friends and the grandmother denied him access to the home because he was banned. It became heated and Mr. Thompson went to his vehicle and retrieved his handgun, he had a CCW, he then fired 2 shots into the ground. The teens left.

Mr Thompson was sentenced to 20 years. Judge John Skinner in this case considered the 20 year term to be unconstitutional and sentenced Thompson to 3 yrs instead of 20. This was overturned on appeal by none other than the 4th Circuit State Attorney Angela Corey. They were afraid of it setting a precedent.

In each of these cases none of the shooters aimed to kill or even wound the people that they perceived to be a threat. They all shot to scare off their perceived attackers. Plain and simple this is an unjust law, it takes away any judicial leeway to make a decision as to whether or not circumstances fit the sentence. The law doesn’t care if you were attacked before, it doesn’t care if you truly felt threatened, it didn’t care, until recently, that it was a warning shot.

Then we have Marissa Alexander, she is a Jacksonville resident who has claimed that she fired a warning shot to prevent her husband from attacking her. Judge James Daniel said when sentencing her: “The decision on an appropriate sentence where the state has provided competent and substantial evidence to support a jury’s verdict of aggravated assault, which they have in this case with the discharge of a firearm, has been entirely taken out of my hands.”

Michael Dunn

Michael Dunn

While I support her right to a new trial, I have gone on record that I did not support her claims. Like with the George Zimmerman case, there are many facts about the case that don’t go national and you have to research it all to come to an opinion of the case. But it is important to recognize that she didn’t get 20 years because she was black; she got 20 years because of this law. It is the same law that we all rejoiced about when Michael Dunn is looking at 60 years behind bars for shooting at the fleeing car in the incident which took Jordan Davis’ life.

While I also don’t wish to see Mr. Dunn to see the light of day as a free man again, we can’t have it both ways. This law needs to be changed; a judge should be given the opportunity to examine the history behind each case to decide if the sentence does fit the crime.

Posted on 07/25/2014, in Conceal Carry & SYG, research and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 69 Comments.

  1. She was offered a three year plea deal which she turned down but that 10-20 law needs to be repealed. Has more to do with private prisons than justice.
    There is an AA pastor who submitted a letter to Angela Corey asking for the plea offer of 3 yrs. to be reinstated as the facts of the case haven’t changed. But in the political aftermath and , cough, interest of justice re-offer it. She got very bad advice from whoever represented her in her first trial, IMHO.

    • Orville Wollard was also offered a 3 yr plea deal and Ronald Thompson was offered 5 yrs probation. They all, like Marissa Alexander, turned down their plea deals because they felt they were right in their decision.

  2. Michael Dunn deserves all 60 yrs. which haven’t been officially entered but will be. He shot 10 bullets and could have killed everyone in the car and any passerbys. It was Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days, in a very busy shopping area.
    He pulled up next to the car with the teens playing music. There was other parking available. Just a horrible vicious man with many horrible destructive past deeds.
    I really think he was hoping for a spree killing, just fortunately for the other teens, it wasn’t successful.

    • yahtzeebutterfly

      I agree with you 2dogsonly that Michael Dunn DOES deserve all 60 years for his crime.

      AND, hopefully he WILL be convicted for killing Jordan Davis at the retrial.

  3. yahtzeebutterfly

    Thank you for your excellent article, towerflower!

    Why can’t people just say, “Go away, I have a gun?”

    Why fire warning shots?

    I don’t understand why Florida has now said warning shots are okay.

    Bullets coming down from the air can hit innocent bystanders. Some gun can shoot great distances…who knows where the bullets will go.

  4. yahtzeebutterfly

    I think it was okay for Eugene to shoot at tires to keep the car from running over him. (Although the car with four flats still could have run over him.)

    • yahtzeebutterfly

      The problem is that he could have accidentally hit someone with those bullets that strayed.

  5. Wondering if Michael Giles should be added to the reported cases?

    • yahtzeebutterfly

      I think Michael Giles would have received great bodily harm or even worse…..he had to defend himself. In his case, I see his warning shot as restrained self defense. He want to save himself (as did Eugene Elsperman) and he was able to without harming ANYONE. He is innocent in my book.

    • While I support Michael Giles and feel he was defending himself, his shot was not a warning shot but actually hit his attacker in the leg. That is why his sentence was longer than what Ms. Alexander was sentenced to.

      • ….Should have been more specific, I was focusing on the those who got the long sentences when they were only firing warning shots and didn’t harm anyone.

        • towerflower, I actually wish that I knew more about the Giles case when it happened. The one thing that I’ve read that is consistent is that the man he shot testified at trial that he wanted to pick a fight. But, like with the other cases, I still have to question if people would have behaved differently had they not had a gun.

          • In 2 of the cases above you also have the “victims” speaking out for the shooter. In the Wollard case the abusive boyfriend wrote Gov. Scott asking for leniency for Wollard. That one surprised me considering what I have read about the boyfriend.

      • crustyolemothman

        towerflower, Michael Giles was also in possession of his weapon in a spot that was not legal for him to carry… Of course there are two versions of how and when he came into possession of his weapon.

        • Yes it is true that it is illegal for a concealed carrier to bring a firearm into a place where liquor is sold. But from what I have read, he left the firearm in a car and retrieved it when the crowds grew outside of the club and he lost sight of his friends. I have found no report that he took it inside the club and the incident took place outside.

          • crustyolemothman

            towerflower, As I mentioned earlier there were two versions of how and when he became into possession of the gun. I was a member of another blog early in 2010 when this case first hit the news. The original story was that he had the gun in his possession when he went into the “club” (bar), the story seemed to have changed after his attorney got involved, it then became after becoming separated from his friends he went to the car, retrieved it from the glove box, loaded it and then went back to the bar to find his friends, later the “he loaded it” seemed to fade away as well. Which truth is the truth? I was not there to witness what took place, so I am not in a position to swear which story is truthful… The question was asked on that forum would he have even been arrested had he not been black, and much arguing back and forth took place, but IMO he still would have been due to the gun being discharged and the wound the other man received. Now, was the sentence excessive, IMO yes, was the sentence given using the guide lines of the law, yes…
            If my memory serves me correctly on point used was due to the swelling of the size of the crowd had reached the area that the incident took place it was considered that he was within the area considered the club. That logic escaped me at the time, and still causes me to question how it was determined… But it is not my job to sit here and retry the case, or I would be spending a lot of time beating my head against the wall…

          • crustyolemothman, the one thing that didn’t make sense about the case was his attorney told him he would go for a SYG hearing and Mr. Giles thought that was going to happen right up to the day of the trial and his attorney changed his mind. I believe he didn’t cause the situation, I believe he was attacked first and believed that his life was in danger and as such would have had a good case for SYG. Even the guy he shot defended him on the stand taking blame for the events.

          • crustyolemothman

            towerflower, Sorry about the delay in responding, I had company last evening and did not touch my computer until this morning… Once again I have to drag information out of my ancient memory in regards to this case. As I recall the reason his attorney did not go for the SYG hearing is because of the question about the point of time that he came into possession of the gun, it was mentioned at the time that if he had the gun in his possession before he left the bar (club) he was committing a criminal act at that time and was not allowed the privilege of using the SYG law. Some of the actions of his attorney at that time were rather confusing and contradictory and IMO he did not receive good legal representation and have since wondered why he did not appeal his conviction on that grounds…

  6. crustyolemothman

    Towerflower, Excellent article! Do you know if there has been any data released on the number of actual bad folks that were taken off the streets due to this law? As has been stated many times by people supporting unlimited gun ownership rights under the 2nd Amendment, all laws have some collateral damage (victims?), so do we remove this law that has taken the discretion in sentencing away from the judge because of the few that suffer what we consider excessive sentencing? While I do not actually like the law, it does force judges to sentence “all” defendants found guilty to equal punishment, and in one way forces them to not allow their bias (racial or otherwise) to be more lenient to one group over another. If this law is over turned, how do we ensure that if we have two defendants found guilty, of equal crimes and one is white and one is black that the justice system will punish them equally? Can you provide a method of revising the law to provide justice yet prevent bias in sentencing? Now, before some of you grab the rope and start looking for a tree to hang me from, try to understand my intent is not to say the folks that are punished excessively should be, but to ask simply, how do we fix the law to prevent it, yet put the truly bad people away for a long time?

  7. yahtzeebutterfly

    No way should Ronald Williams have received 80 years…..or 20 years….he harmed no one.

    but if all that was happening was that 4 gay guys were looking at him, I don’t think that is cause to pull out a gun. They were not causing him bodily harm nor were they a threat to his life. He should have tried to run away and if they chased after him with intent to harm him, then he should have pulled out his gun. Even then…seeing a gun should be enough to scare away people….no need for a warning shot.

    I don’t know about that case and if there is more to it.

    • yahtzeebutterfly, the guys were whistling and ogling him and it sounds like Williams may have been a bit homophobic. The Williams case went before the Florida Supreme Court in June but I couldn’t find their response to it. They were arguing the whether the constitutive sentence was a misinterpretation of the law and it should have been concurrent.

      • yahtzeebutterfly

        Well, if Williams pulled out his gun and shot bullets in the air because he was enraged by their behavior, he was in the wrong.

        There should be a simple law with a simple punishment for those people who fire warning shots due to their rage.

  8. crustyolemothman: I found this research article from 2010. http://usfsm.edu/academics/cas/capstone/2009-2010/criminology/rodriguez%20-%2010-20-life%20mandatory%20minimum%20prison%20sentences.pdf

    Basically they said there are studies that need to be done to see if the law has truly has had an effect on violent crime. It was noted that while crime went down after the enactment, the economy also improved; so was the improvement in the economy the real reason? It also has a breakdown of race/gender of those sentenced under this law.

    How do we ensure equality? Hard one there, to be honest I don’t have the figures to see if they are charged equally. How many people were offered plea deals and took them instead? What is the breakdown of plea deals offered by race? To be honest you still might have people being treated differently.

    My point was there can be extenuating circumstances that a judge might consider, like history of past abuse, and that the judge should have some say in the sentencing process. Like the judge said in Williams case….he has seen murderers get less time. There is a problem, IMO, when a person who doesn’t try to hurt anyone gets more time than one who does.

    • yahtzeebutterfly

      “There is a problem, IMO, when a person who doesn’t try to hurt anyone gets more time than one who does.”

      I agree with you towerflower.

    • crustyolemothman

      towerflower, From the study you provided..

      “Although, positive data and studies support a claim that the 10-20-Life program has positively impacted the rate of gun violence, more testing is needed as this program is labeled as promising not necessarily as a program that works. Many challenges exist before an optimal solution can be applied, however, the merits of mandatory sentencing has shown positive trends and should be continued until more clinical testing can be done.”

      I looked but can not find any real indication that anyone has followed up and done farther studies to ensure the law is working as intended.

      You did bring up another very important issue in regards to this as well as most laws, and that is the Prosecuting Attorney has way too much discretion in application of the law and to whom it is or is not applied. IMO any case that could possibly carry a sentence of more that a very short period needs to go to an impartial grand jury to either charge or not charge and to chose what charges are to be filed. However as we are all extremely aware, our system is not only flawed, it is abused and for all practical purposes is broken to the point that it is being rendered useless in serving justice on and for all citizens equally. Justice in this nation is no longer blind, she now has 22/20 vision and only applies the law to a select few members of our society based primarily on their race and or social status.

      • yahtzeebutterfly

        “You did bring up another very important issue in regards to this as well as most laws, and that is the Prosecuting Attorney has way too much discretion in application of the law and to whom it is or is not applied. “

        Yes, crustyolemothman, and we saw that with how Florida State Attorney Norman Wolfinger chose not to press charges against gz.

        On March 22, after pressure and outcry from the public, Wolfinger removed himself from the case for the “public good” and for the avoidance of “even the appearance of a conflict of interest.”

        I have always wondered what that “conflict of interest” might have been.

        Here is how he worded his statement:

        “In the interest of the public safety of the citizens of Seminole County and to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest, I would respectfully request the executive assignment of another state attorney for the investigation and any prosecution arising from the circumstances surrounding the death of Trayvon B. Martin,” Wolfinger said in a statement released about 9:15 p.m. “This request is being made in light of the public good with the intent of toning down the rhetoric and preserving the integrity of this investigation.”


        • crustyolemothman

          yahtzee, Good morning! IMO the power of the prosecuting attorneys office is probably the weakest link in the criminal justice system. Too much power placed in the hands of a single individual in too many cases. This would be the best place to start with reform of our legal system. There has to be a better way to determine who will and will not be charged with a crime, in our local area there have been several cases that personal friends of the leadership of the county have openly committed crimes that would have found you or I placed in the criminal justice system, but the local prosecutor decided to either not charge them or offered a plea deal down to a very minimal misdemeanor. Justice is often denied to not only the person accused but to the victim of the crime as well due to actions of the prosecutor. However that change will probably not happen, especially due to political influence in the process… Too bad..

          • yahtzeebutterfly

            You make a very good point, crustolemothman, in say that it is probably the “weakest link.”

            Reform is definitely called for, but how to go about it is my question.

          • crustyolemothman

            yahtzee, At the present time, due to the sad state of affairs that we are bogged down with in the political system, making any truly effective reforms to the legal system would be like attempting to swim upstream in a fully flowing sewer pipe… The real question that one might be tempted to ask is “would it even be possible to make reforms in a legal system with the government being effectively broken”? IMO it won’t happen, if for no other reason it does not impact those people that sit at the top of the food chain…

          • yahtzeebutterfly

            I hear you, crustyolemothman.

          • butterflydreamer2


            You are absolutely right. It’s all about who you know. Money, power, and kickbacks.

    • crustyolemothman

      towerflower, Sorry about making this a two part reply, please forgive me..

      “My point was there can be extenuating circumstances that a judge might consider, like history of past abuse, and that the judge should have some say in the sentencing process. Like the judge said in Williams case….he has seen murderers get less time. There is a problem, IMO, when a person who doesn’t try to hurt anyone gets more time than one who does.”

      For many years the Judge did have a lot of leeway to modify charges, reduce sentences from the guidelines and use extenuating circumstances in determining
      sentences, as you mention. However, that privilege was abused and not applied fairly to all people and in more than a few cases the skin color of the accused had a lot of bearing on the sentence given… While I don’t like the mandatory sentence laws, I do realize why they came about and what they were supposed to accomplish. The real problem is not this law as much as what causes this type of law to become necessary to begin with. How do we force the justice system to be fair and above reproach in application to all citizens regardless of race, sexual preference, gender and etc? While it may appear that I am arguing in favor of this law, I’m not, I am simply saying that we have a problem and it needs to be solved and the authors of this law felt that it would be a step in that direction.

  9. yahtzeebutterfly

    Frankly, I think a lot of U.S. citizens are fuzzy on just what self defense is.

    Look how they have to explain it to a jury.

  10. yahtzeebutterfly

    So, towerflower, how was the justice system as far as gun crimes working out before Gov. Jeb Bush?

  11. Before this law it was a mandatory 3yr sentence when a firearm was used. The 10-20-Life law was viewed to be a form of gun control with people fearing to use a gun for fear of the sentence.

  12. Great job on your first blog post towerflower!

    And yes, mas incarceration is worsened by these #MandatoryMinimums

    It’s strange that we employee experienced judges and then don’t allow them to have discretion on how to implement penalties.

  13. Well, as long as this law is on the books – it’s a good reason to not even own a gun.

  14. While I understand the intention of the law — to dissuade/ discourage gun use, or rather, scare folks straight about even entertaining the notion of using a gun– clearly, the ramifications and myriad of ways in which it could play out weren’t considered, kind of like taking this country to war, without first thinking it through (Bush legacy at work).

    Thank you for clarification around the law itself. No, we can’t have it both ways. The consequences are cruel and excessive when this is a case of self-defense. I cannot imagine defending my family, only to then be severed from them for doing so, on account of this broken legislation.

    • yahtzeebutterfly

      Hi SomerEmpress. Welcome!

      You are so right that ” clearly, the ramifications and myriad of ways in which it could play out weren’t considered”

      And, yes, as you point out about the 10-20 law, ” The consequences are cruel and excessive when this IS a case of self-defense. “

  15. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Thank you for the explanation and the education. Indeed …. the law needs to be revisited, clarified and updated. Well done!!

  16. Excellent topic towerflower. i learned a lot even though I’ve been aware of the law for sometime, I didn’t know about the addition of 16&17yrs.

    but at the time i learned of the law i wasn’t aware of the racial & class discrepancies in the legal system and so I thought it sounded like a relatively good idea. figured lots of ppl would be thinking twice about bringing guns to commit a crime.

    I’ve since changed my view on all mandatory minimums on just about everything these days!! and when W stole the presidential election everything I had ever believed to be right and good about the US political system was also stolen by the Bush Crime family too. so I’m also biased and pretty much opposed to everything that involves any Bush.

    I will credit Jeb for publicly stating Zimmerman had no protection under ‘his” SYG law.

    as far as the min/man sentences, one of my biggest problems is with the prosecutors doing the charging.
    for example; the 10-20-life sentencing guidelines are to apply to forcible felonies. why is someone who’s firing a warning shot to scare off a possible attacker charged with a felony in the first place?
    the prosecutor has discretion too. and obviously abuse that discretion for all kinds of reasons. we’ve got the private prisons, racism &classism so there’s gotta be some more over seeing of the prosecutors and they need to be held accountable for their responsibilities.

    there’s many issues w gun laws in general that could be easily addressed I think that could bring back logic and reason to self defense claims. the idea of SYG is not as bad as it has been portrayed in recent years. I think there’s plenty of room to include SYG in the proper context. and even as they are written now, I believe they’re being misread, misinterpreted and misused.

    • yahtzeebutterfly

      Hi Shannon,

      “why is someone who’s firing a warning shot to scare off a possible attacker charged with a felony in the first place?”

      I can see that if a person is truly under attack and is in a situation where that person has the right of self defense to kill his attacker, then a warning shot IS a humane way to “save the attacker’s life” and IS justified.

      But, how many people fire warning shots recklessly? How many people with little restraint will now fire warning shots simply because Florida says it is now okay? How many vigilantes will take advantage of this new “it’s okay” law and kill someone and say, “Ooops, my warning shot accidentally killed him” and get away with murder? …especially if there were no witnesses?

      How many innocent bystanders might get killed by the stray bullets? Many guns have a long distance range and the bullets can come down from the sky and hit someone else if the warning shot is aimed at the sky…..or if it is aim to the side when no one else is in the immediate area, can travel a great distance and hit an innocent person a great distance away.

      “there’s many issues w gun laws in general that could be easily addressed I think that could bring back logic and reason to self defense claims.”

      One thing that can be done by citizens who are pushing for gun control laws, demanding an end to citizen-possession of military-grade assault weapons that can eviscerate a victim to the point of being unrecognizable, or seeking clarification or change in existing gun laws, is to provide legislators with specific bills with specific wording.

      This is what ALEC has been doing…they have flooded state legislators across our country with “ready-made” bills. Citizens demanding change and demanding gun control are at a disadvantage because of this well-funded ALEC organization. Gun nuts in the NRA and also gun manufacturers have well-funded lobbyists that also put gun-control citizens at a disadvantage.

      ” the prosecutor has discretion too. and obviously abuse that discretion for all kinds of reasons. we’ve got the private prisons, racism &classism so there’s gotta be some more over seeing of the prosecutors and they need to be held accountable for their responsibilities.”

      Thanks for pointing this out, Shannon. Yes, prosecutors DO need to be held accountable for how they use their discretion.

      You are so right, Shannon, when you write that SYG laws are being “misread, misinterpreted, and MISUSED.”

      Thanks, Shannon, for your well-thought-out post here. 🙂

      • yahtzeebutterfly

        For those of you who don’t know about ALEC, here is a good page to read:


        The description of the one of their articles there says this:

        ” Through the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, global corporations and state politicians vote behind closed doors to try to rewrite state laws that govern your rights.

        These so-called “model bills” reach into almost every area of American life and often directly benefit huge corporations.

        “In ALEC’s own words, corporations have “a VOICE and a VOTE” on specific changes to the law that are then proposed in your state. DO YOU? Numerous resources to help us expose ALEC are provided below. We have also created links to detailed discussions of key issues”

        • The good news is that ALEC lost lots of sponsors after Trayvon’s murder because of their connection to the SYG laws were publicly exposed.

          I’m counting on the next few years of elections to become basically the changing of the guards. I’m hoping that organizations like ALEC & NRA will become less influential and the laws will reflect what the voters want as they should be. if this doesn’t happen I’m getting the eff outta these here non-united states, I’m not bringing up my only kid in the wild wild west. I’m not going to live in a place controlled solely by the rich elite and cronyism and nepotism. I’m tired of living in a place where the ppl making all the rules also get to decide who has to follow them and who doesn’t. especially if I don’t have to.

          we know history repeats itself. all the great empires like the roman empire fell because of the greed and corruption of the few powerful elite. shouldn’t we expect the same for the US empire when the ppl are finally pushed to their limit. I think we’re are almost there.

          • yahtzeebutterfly

            The good news is that ALEC lost lots of sponsors after Trayvon’s murder because of their connection to the SYG laws were publicly exposed.”

            Yes, boycotts were being threatened by the public.

            Midterm elections this year certainly will indicate where our country is headed.

      • Yahtzee, I agree w/you about these so-called warning shot freebees. in most of the cases towerflower mentions I don’t feel the shot was necessary or justified.

        the gun laws seem clear enough to me when the use of a gun is permitted. and firing a warning shot because a teenager is being abusive and/punching holes in the wall isn’t one of them. it’s time to go back to the good old days and call 911.
        (yet now we have rogue cops who are actually a bigger threat to your entire life than any out of control teenager, ex boyfriend or drunk neighbor. so there’s that too tho…)

        But it’s the responsibility of the gun owner that’s in question and if he/she isn’t responsible he/she needs to be arrested for recklessness or whatever and charged and punished accordingly.

        in the cases towerflower mentions non of the sentences are appropriate nor were the charges. there again we have the prosecution over charging and/or misusing the laws.

        the gun laws are not being applied fairly to everyone & being used against the victim and not the defendant.

        in recent years it seems that your much more likely to get off on SYG & SD cases if you just shoot the victim dead. I believe this is by design of the corporate sponsored political era we’re in.
        if you kill your victim he/she’s not here to tell their side and the defense is now free to say anything regardless of their ability to prove it whether it makes sense or not.
        thus NEW RULE: shoot all you want but you better not miss.

  17. yahtzeebutterfly

    One of the problems that I see is that people have different thresholds before fear kicks in. All of those claims: “I was in fear for my life!” ….”I was in fear that I was going to receive ‘great bodily harm’ and so I HAD to shoot!”

    How many shooting victims have lost their lives because of the shooter’s imagined fear? because of the shooter’s false claim of fear? because of the shooter’s low threshold for fear? because of the shooter shooting first before assessing if there was real danger? because the shooter was ‘trigger happy?’ because of the shooter’s confrontational style which led to a situation where the victim’s reaction to the shooter’s aggression suddenly caused the shooter to become fearful?

    • yes Yahtzee, this is one of the misuse of the SD laws that could be addressed more definitively. I’m not sure if you remember Leatherman’s explanation of the reasonable fear element? but this reasonableness shld be based on common sense by the reasonable ppl on the jury.

      Considering all circumstances in Trayvon’s case it’s seems far more reasonable that Trayvon was the one in fear, not the man w.the gun, mma training. it should be considered by anyone with common sense that there’s a big difference between a grown man who out weighs a kid by 50lb, even more so than say 2 grown men w/a 50lb weight difference.
      all of this, the circumstantial and forensic evidence & the UN-reasonableness of zimmerman’s fear was not considered by that jury or they would have delivered a guilty verdict.

      the jury in Dunn’s trial also FAILED the reasonableness test!! why wld that idiot be in “reasonable” in fear in his own car?

      Obvious fabricated excuses of defendants are being used as fact in place of “reasonable doubt”, when that is NOT reasonable doubt is. that’s just an excuse made by someone with a motive to make them.

      there’s bias and then there’s ignorance when the jury considers the defendant ridiculous excuses as a bases for ‘reasonable doubt’.
      racial bias was clear in Zimmerman jury but sheer ignorance was clear in Casey Anthony’s jury.
      in these cases any ol crazy lie the defense comes up with is being used as an excuse for the state not proving it’s case. it’s stupid!

  18. yahtzeebutterfly

    The #2 Pingback at the bottom of this page leads to a great page of re-blogged articles that are worth reading.


  19. yahtzeebutterfly

    Maryland in my opinion has done the right thing and put into place better gun laws and restrictions. Take a look and see the result as far as what the Berretta gun manufacturing company is doing.

    I hope many more states will follow Maryland’s example!

    Beretta to move manufacturing jobs out of Maryland, blames state gun laws”
    By Michael S. Rosenwald July 22


    Blaming Maryland’s new gun-control laws, Beretta USA said Tuesday that it is relocating its manufacturing operations from Accokeek to Tennessee, a move that will eliminate about 160 jobs in southern Prince George’s County.

    The Italian company had disclosed a $45 million plan this year to expand operations to a new factory near Nashville. But Beretta has decided to go beyond that plan because, a senior executive said, the company is “very worried about the wisdom of maintaining a firearm manufacturing factory” in Maryland.

    Maryland’s new gun restrictions, pushed by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., bans 45 types of assault rifles and put in place tough fingerprint, photo identification and training requirements. Magazines are limited to 10 rounds.

    A version of the legislation that passed the state Senate “would have prohibited Beretta ­USA from being able to manufacture, store or even import into the State products that we sell to customers throughout the United States and around the world,” the company said.

    • crustyolemothman

      Yahtzee, Is Maryland a “right to work law” state? If I was a betting man, my money would be on the move is being made because of taxes and lower wages along with concessions from the state to relocate there…

  20. Awesome Excellent article!

  21. crustyolemothman

    O/T but amusing, and worth reading for a good laugh in the morning… But it is also distressing that we actually have these people in our government…


  22. crustyolemothman

    Towerflower, In your opinion do you think the 10-20-life law had an impact on the jury in M. Dunn’s trial?

    • Was it even mentioned how long the sentence could be to the jurors? I truly believe that most people don’t know about the law, which I believe is the reason for the outcry from Ms. Alexander’s sentence.

      • crustyolemothman

        Thank you for the response. You’re right, I never considered the ignorance of the law crowd when I asked the question… Perhaps the citizens of Florida will go back and look at the law and come up with a more comprehensive one that allows for a degree of discretion in the sentence. While I never considered it a gun control law, I did listen to many lawmakers state that this type of law would help to reduce crime, but failed to hear that it would resolve the on going gun problem in this country, or perhaps I should have said the people with gun problem we have in this country? IMO the concept behind the law is/was good, however they did fail to consider some of the residual problems that would develop due to the enforcement of the law. IMO you have done an excellent job with this article and look forward to your next one… While we disagree quite a bit about the 2nd Amendment, we do agree on many other equally important issues…

      • Towerflower, I agree, most people don’t know about the 10-20 law, no more than they knew of SYG, hence the public outcry for Trayvon Martin. Had SYG not existed, I still would have found Zimmerman guilty of murder. It is exceptionally time consuming to research the additions of bills, they pass through many hands and often, what I’ve found, is that an ‘unknown’ seemingly becomes the creator. Also, those bills that crawl under the doors as many politicians do, those bills are often coupled with unrelated bills which creates a muck in the mire. I started recognizing this when researching the introduction of the NRA Eddy Eagle program for schools and which states were considering the implementations. I was floored. I believe our judicial system fails when our juries are unable to comprehend a law where the circumstances do not coincide with the charges. Both laws need to be changed.

  23. Very objective post on the issues Xena. There are powerful arguements on boths sides of this debate. I am on the end of repealing these laws despite the initial intentions of their creation. Or, at least allowing courts to depart from the mandatory minimum´s if the defendant meets specific criteria. Such as is with the Fed. Saftey Valve.
    I feel the mandatory minimums remove the ability of Judge´s to weigh any type of mitigating facts during sentencing. Allowing a Judge to sentence based on aggravating cirmumstances should be up to the Judge not legislators. These laws have the ability to be prejudicial, hence affecting due process. (Although Federally challenged it was upheld not to affect the 8th Amendment. Not sure if anyone had challenged Due process in State Supras)

    As far as plea deals go? I am on the fence. I feel they water down Due Process. However, there are times victims´ & their families are grateful for such deals.
    There are pros & cons to pleas, just as there are with mandatory & judicial discrection.
    There are times defendant´s pleaded guilty to charges to reduce their sentence or to avoid the death penalty during the most heinous crimes. Then at times defendant´s plea even when they are innocent. Plea deals have, and continue to affect the confidence in the Judicial System regardless of guilt or innocence.

    A not so off topic comment I would like to make considering the most recent “self defense” trials….
    Police Depts. should require and train that every shooting be treated as a criminal homicide during the investigation and collection of evidence. Great care should be taken despite the claims of the shooter & regardless of a State´s self defense laws. This protects the potential defendant, the dead, the police dept., and Prosecutor´s.
    If someone has truly shot in self defense they would be grateful to the required investigation, and attention to every detail.

    Two cases which come to mind where there are more questions then answers when a defendant claimed self defense due to shabby police work are the Zimmerman & Wafer trials. I won´t litigate here. Just state these cases reflect that these men have garnered social support from the lack of evidence and through poor police investigations. I hold the police departments accountable.

  24. Annie Cabani

    Excellent job, Towerflower, and you obviously stimulated lots of good conversation about an important subject.

    Mandatory minimums have been a terrible source of injustice in the “War Against Drugs” for half a century, at least. Yet it can be hard to argue against them, because the people suffering the injustice are rarely perceived as “sympathetic” types, worthy of going out on a limb for. So it’s easy for the general populace to simply turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to massive injustices occurring amongst us. Despite some backing off from them a bit in the 1970’s, the mandatory minimums and other “bad-ass, no-nonsense” attitudes towards “the others” sprang back into favor during the 1980’s, IIRC – i.e., the Reagan years.

    [All the political ugliness, inflexibility, and ill-will that has grown steadily stronger to this day is rooted in the Reagan years, IMO. Ahhh, yes – the ’80’s! The age of “The Material Girl in a Material World” and a “Future So Bright We Had to Wear Shades” (which turned out to be blinders on the vast majority of folks, rather than sunglasses). Yes, that was just the beginning of duping the masses into allowing – even insisting on, against their own interests – the upward redistribution of wealth that has continued to this day. But I digress.]

    Unfortunately, I think politicians – especially Republicans in general, and probably Jeb Bush in particular – learned that being a “super-bad-ass-on-crime” wins elections. That strategy clearly worked in putting Jeb’s dad into the White House (e.g., the “Willie Horton” and “Revolving Prison Door” campaign ads under Lee Atwater’s tutelage, which Karl Rove and the likes still emulate).

    So it’s not surprising that Jeb Bush adopted a “super-bad-ass-on-gun-crime” stance in order to get himself elected in Florida – and then extended blatantly unjust mandatory minimums into yet another new realm. (I do find it interesting that California adopted a 10-20-Life law in 1996 or 1997, too. So did Jeb steal the idea, rather than come up with it on his own? Hmmm….)

    Anyway, and in summary, minimum mandatories are, to me, an excellent example of the Law of Unintended Consequences. But unfortunately, it’s a whole lot easier to rally up the masses to implement such laws than to repeal such laws.

    Thanks again, Towerflower … and I hope I didn’t anger the rest of you too much by my commentary.

  25. What forcible felony did these people commit while firing their gun?

    • Mandatory miniums were never supported by Judges or prosecutors. Privatization of prisons and their lobby supported it and NRA, due to having everything they have asked for, being granted had to find other laws to lobby for. Hence, the SYG and in extreme states you can use it based solely on feeling fear.

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