It’s Not About Warning Shots – The FL 10-20-Life Law Is Being Misused

By Marion P. Hammer December 7, 2013

Marion P. Hammer
Marion P. Hammer

Florida – -( Nothing in Florida’s SB-448 and HB-89, the House Companion, allows warning shots nor do they promote or encourage warning shots.

Warning shots are not safe. Nonetheless, when people are in fear for their lives or the lives of loved ones, they might fire a warning shot rather than shoot someone. People make mistakes and do irrational things when in fear of death or injury. That doesn’t mean they should go to prison for 20 years when there was no injury or harm done.

Warning shots are an unsafe result of the glorification of such conduct in movies and on TV. No one is recommending warning shots.

Nonetheless, a father should not be prosecuted under 10-20-Life for firing a warning shot. No harm was done yet a father was sent to prison for 20 years for firing a warning shot to stop an attacker from harming his daughter.

A mother should not be charged under 10-20-Life for firing a warning shot to stop an attack by an abusive ex-husband. It caused no injury and no harm yet she was prosecuted and sent to prison for 20 years. These are not isolated cases.

The simple truth is the intent of the 10-20-Life law is being violated. The law was intended to be used to lock up criminals who use guns during the commission or attempted commission of crimes.

It was intended to stop prosecutors and judges from slapping gun-toting criminals on the wrist so they could quickly clear cases.

The 10-20-Life law was never intended to be used against citizens who, in an act of self-defense, threatened the use of force to stop an attacker, including the unwise use of a warning shot. Yet, that’s what some prosecutors are doing. They are willfully and knowingly violating the intent of the law.

The cold hard reality is that some prosecutors are treating law-abiding people like criminals. People who never would have been in the system had they not been attacked and in fear for their own safety are being prosecuted. Self-defense is not a crime, it is a right and prosecutors are trampling those rights.

The threat of force in self-defense should have the same protection as actually shooting someone in self-defense. You should not be required to shoot an attacker to have the protection of the law.

The issue is not warning shots, it’s about protecting people from the abuse of prosecutorial discretion.

Marion P. Hammer is a past president of the National Rifle Association and executive director of Unified Sportsmen of Florida.

The 10-20-LIFE Law is a Minimum Mandatory law that mandates specific penalties for criminals who use guns to commit crimes:

  • 10 years in prison for pulling a gun during the commission of a crime.
  • 20 years in prison for shooting a gun during the commission of a crime.
  • 25 years to Life in prison if you shoot someone during the commission of a crime.
  • For more information on 10-20-Life go here:
  • 10-20-Life – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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If I’m in a situation that has devolved to the point that I feel the need to draw my weapon I WILL fire that weapon. If I fire that weapon I WILL try to kill what ever I am shooting at. That’s what Dad taught me when I first started shooting, and that idea has served me very well for over 50 years in combat, hunting, and in bad neighborhoods.


If I read it right the law stated “during the commission of a crime.” Self defense cases always start from the fact that you protected yourself “during” a crime being committed against you. A lawyer then must prove your self defense status during the crime. Not an easy task. But one that has been fought and won many times. Once the court recognizes your right to self defense I would say it would a very simple step to prove you were not “in commission of a crime” in the discharge of your weapon, just negligent and under extreme stress. Once… Read more »


Warning shots just allow the thug the opportunity to go find other victims, who may not be prepared to defend themselves. If someone is threatening an innocent to the point of a gun needing to be drawn and fired, it is very likely time to retire them.


Sounds like anit-gun prosecutors are taking every opportunity to fulfill their own believes and the judge doesn’t have a choice. I’m no lawyer nor do I have a strong understanding of criminal law. I would have to agree with Dr. Dave, the prosecutor has a choice to take the case to trial. Why are cases like these not dropped?

Dr Dave

Mandatory sentencing does NOT say mandatory trial. The prosecutor has full discretion to even take the case to trial. Sometimes the absence of a brain is all that is needed to be elected to office. If the reality is no harm was done and the case involves self defense don’t blame the law of 10-20-L blame the idiot who prosecuted the case to begin with. Here in FL however our AG has her panties in a rage over litigating any case that walks across her desk even if it means bringing in outside prosecutors to do it. She has overruled… Read more »


Right, often prosecutors have sights on higher office, Mayor, Governor, Senator, POTUS.

They will be aggressive in prosecution of these types of cases, no matter if the citizen was trying to protect their loved ones or themselves.


the ‘prosecutors’ are the problem not the ‘law’…its way past time to hole judges and prosecuters..liable and accountable…with criminal penelties…this segment of the justice system must be brought to bear..they are a major reason for high crime in this country…as in they let off easy real criminals and punish severely a ‘non’ criminal type….it is an ongoing agenda in this country…Fl. is a very good example of liberal agenda to trash any gun rights…and citizens who use self defense without injury to the ‘attacker’…imho


Unfortunately mandatory sentencing is a double edged sword. Any overzealous prosecutor can use them to railroad someone whether it be guns or drugs.

Dave from San Antonio

I will give one “warning shot”…right in the head. That way there will only be one story…mine…cause the “other guy” won’t have a thing to say when asked about it. Warning shots are dangerous…that round has to go somewhere…and no matter what, you and only you own it and are responsible for where it goes and what it does.