It’s true. Florida is one of the worst places to fire a gun into the air, even as it appears to be one of the best places to actually shoot at a person.
Here’s the story: In 1999, Florida’s “tough-on-crime” lawmakers passed one of nation’s harshest gun laws. Known as “10-20-life,” the law stipulates that a person who commits a felony with a gun gets an automatic 10 years in prison. A person who fires that gun gets an automatic 20 years. And a person who injures someone or kills someone with the gun gets 25-to-life.
“The law was intended for direct, blatant acts of crime, like someone robbing a liquor store,” former state senator Victor D. Crist, the author of the law, told me in a phone interview. “Circumstances where Grandpa goes out on New Year’s Eve and fires a gun in the air . . . that wasn’t the intent.”
But over the years, the law has netted scores of people Crist never imagined. Since the act of pulling out a gun and firing it can be considered “aggravated assault,” people who fire warning shots into the air risk a 20-year prison sentence.