Legalizing warning shots: Thoughts, comments?

Jack BurtonJack Burton MemberPosts: 379 Member
http://www.bradenton.com/2014/03/20/5056338/florida-house-to-vote-on-warning.html

I see huge issues with this in situations other than it's intended righting of the wrong in the Marissa Alexander case. Anyone else see a potential problem?
Came for the fishing, stayed for the guns.
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Replies

  • bullsi1911bullsi1911 Moderator Posts: 9,684 Senior Member
    BAD idea. When you pull the trigger, you are committing to deadly force.
    To make something simple is a thousand times more difficult than to make something complex.
    -Mikhail Kalashnikov
  • zorbazorba Senior Member Posts: 19,315 Senior Member
    attachment.php?attachmentid=4694&d=1395415479
    $_3.JPG 57.5K
    -Zorba, "The Veiled Male"

    "If you get it and didn't work for it, someone else worked for it and didn't get it..."
  • knitepoetknitepoet Senior Member Posts: 18,738 Senior Member
    BAD IDEA IMO for NUMEROUS reasons.

    Including, but not limited to:
    • Bullsi's observation posted above
    • Liability for where said warning shot stops

    to something as trivial as the fact it reduces the amount of ammo available to deal with the problem
    Seven Habits of Highly Effective Pirates, Rule #37: There is no “overkill”. There is only “open fire” and “I need to reload”.


  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 14,962 Senior Member
    STUPID IDEA Completely negates the concept of responsibility for where the projectile you launched ends up.... if you're in a bad enough situation to be pulling the trigger you probably ought not to be blowing holes in the air.
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • Dr. dbDr. db Senior Member Posts: 1,541 Senior Member
    Never point your weapon at anything you are not willing to destroy.
  • knitepoetknitepoet Senior Member Posts: 18,738 Senior Member
    zorba wrote: »
    attachment.php?attachmentid=4694&d=1395415479
    For the record, on a side note. I see signs like this, the " Trespassers will be shot, survivors will be shot again" and their ilk as a BAD idea to have around one's house.

    Can you imagine the firestorm when you had a legit HD shooting, and your local news covers it, zooms in on said sign and the reporter mentions, "While local police are saying the shooting APPEARS to be justified, this sign indicates the Mr. ______ was planning on shooting any trespassers and making sure they were dead"

    Then imagine how much worse it would be if there was even the tiniest thing questionable about the shooting.
    Seven Habits of Highly Effective Pirates, Rule #37: There is no “overkill”. There is only “open fire” and “I need to reload”.


  • gunrunner428gunrunner428 Senior Member Posts: 1,018 Senior Member
    It further increases the burden on an otherwise justified shoot.

    "So, Mr./Mrs./Miss ___________, you had your gun, you felt your life was potentially in danger, so why DIDN'T you fire your legally entitled warning shot?"

    Same reason "shoot to wound" is NOT taught in police training and shouldn't be taught in general firearms courses. Shoot to stop the threat, not "to wound" or "to kill".

    Bullsi and Jayhawker both have extremely good points.
  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 7,002 Senior Member
    Lethal force is lethal force. Deploying it has to be defensible. So long as that line has been satisfactorily crossed, there should be some leeway in what the defender chooses to do with their ammo. OTOH, REQUIRING them to follow a certain process is stupid - especially if your state limits you to a set number of rounds. I can also see some really interesting potential for cases of "It wasn't a warning shot; I missed" or vice versa, depending on the situation.

    Here's another angle. The typical top-end duty round is designed SPECIFICALLY to open up, penetrate to maximum diameter, and stop within the confines of the average human torso - or at least have so little energy left after exiting that it's not a major threat. When you fire your "deliberate miss" into things OTHER than meat, such as drywall, stucco, concrete, etc... cavities can get plugged or can collapse, and the bullet can penetrate more deeply or ricochet into the great unknown. It's entirely possible that the best direction to fire for the safety of the community at large is right into the center of the aggressor's chest.
    WWJMBD?

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • SlanteyedshootistSlanteyedshootist Senior Member Posts: 3,947 Senior Member
    All my warning shots are fired on the shooting range. If the BG didn't hear them, oh well.
    The answer to 1984 is 1776
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    Dr. db wrote: »
    Never point your weapon at anything you are not willing to destroy.

    My Dad had an interesting version of that, "Never point your gun at anyone unless you're gonna kill him."

    A bit extreme but much to the point. A warning shot is a bad idea, if only because you are responsible for where each bullet goes (as was said above).

    One of my self defense instructors said this: "The first time an opponent knows you're armed is when he sees the muzzle flash."

    I can see "drawing down" on someone and not firing -- I've done it myself a couple of times -- but the perceived threat must be genuine, and even if you don't fire, you should be prepared to do so if necessary. But no warning shots.

    Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read. - Groucho Marx
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    I'm a bit confused regarding the proposed law in the first place. Florida's Castle Doctrine law has been the template for other states, incl. Texas. And the CD law here specifically states that you are not obligated to retreat or otherwise yield if you feel that your life is in danger, etc.

    So a warning shot is already implied as okay under the existing law, despite the fact that we mostly agree it's a tactical error.

    Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read. - Groucho Marx
  • pjames777pjames777 Senior Member Posts: 1,078 Senior Member
    As long as it is the second shot!

    Seriously.... the barrel should be the first warning as BG's can cover 21ft in under 2 seconds a warning is too late IMHO. Murphy's law dictates that the "warning" shot is going somewhere and destroying something unintended.
  • MississippiBoyMississippiBoy Senior Member Posts: 819 Senior Member
    It further increases the burden on an otherwise justified shoot.

    "So, Mr./Mrs./Miss ___________, you had your gun, you felt your life was potentially in danger, so why DIDN'T you fire your legally entitled warning shot?"

    That was my very first thought. It's similar to the "duty to retreat" laws some states did/do have. If you're "allowed" a warning shot, it's a short step to you're "required" to give a warning shot. Bad, bad, bad juju....
  • tennmiketennmike Senior Member Posts: 25,957 Senior Member
    Stupid idea. You have to aim at a safe backstop to catch the bullet from the warning shot. Might not be one available. Shoot in the air? That's REALLY stupid. Whoever came up with that idea, and those voting for it, need a lesson in exterior ballistics. Anyway, IMHO, if you are threatened to the point that you've drawn your firearm and the bad guy is still advancing, I don't think a warning shot will stop him.
    Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.


  • horselipshorselips Senior Member Posts: 3,626 Senior Member
    Depends on the warning shot. Straight up is OK, until a falling bullet kills or injures someone or damages anyone's property. Into soft ground is fine until a bullet accidentally strikes a rock, and ricochets into anyone or anything. Into your own floor or ceiling might work - just don't mention it to your homeowner's insurance agent. And so forth, blah, blah, blah.

    Like anything, the unique circumstances of each actual incident, along with any mitigating or aggravating attendant consequences, would have to be considered. A warning shot may be fraught with risk and peril, or, it might just save the day for all concerned.
  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 10,152 Senior Member
    It's forbidden almost everywhere. Maybe because of that, I don't know of any cases where a bystander was wounded or killed due to a warning shot.

    To the point, The National Sheriff's Association wrote about this about ten years ago. Their conclusion was not a strict universal condemnation I expected. It's mostly a very bad idea, they concluded, but there are exceptions (however rare.) Cited were certain situations, like in one particular case with Hispanic clients in a bar, where deputies routinely fired warning shots to break up fights. It gave the fighters an excuse to quit without losing face and de-escalated the situation. The bar owner even put a place in the ceiling for this purpose.

    I've never fired a warning shot in my years of law enforcement, but know of at least twice when it happened. The first time a fellow officer was getting pounded and cranked off a round to get the guy off him. It worked. More recently, a prisoner escaped from a deputy at a doctor's office (where the nurse insisted the deputy take off the handcuffs.) The warning shot didn't work but we caught the guy later that day.

    In both cases, and in everywhere I worked, it was against policy, and should remain against policy. In rural areas, the chance of damaging someone is less, so I wouldn't say NEVER. No harm, no foul. We weren't supposed to be using flashlights as weapons, either, but my former boss was getting his butt kicked by a drunken former football player and he cleaned him out with a Maglight.

    Nowadays, there are better options, like TASERs. But I would never rule out any option for some deputy outnumbered and alone in taking care of business. Knowing that if someone got wounded who wasn't supposed to, there would be a lot of liability.
    Not too many problems you can't fix
    With a 1911 and a 30-06
  • remmagremmag Member Posts: 92 Member
    and besides, why would you want witnesses?
    zorba wrote: »
    attachment.php?attachmentid=4694&d=1395415479
  • remmagremmag Member Posts: 92 Member
    can you fire the warning shot second?? who's there to know the difference?
    That was my very first thought. It's similar to the "duty to retreat" laws some states did/do have. If you're "allowed" a warning shot, it's a short step to you're "required" to give a warning shot. Bad, bad, bad juju....
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    That was my very first thought. It's similar to the "duty to retreat" laws some states did/do have. If you're "allowed" a warning shot, it's a short step to you're "required" to give a warning shot. Bad, bad, bad juju....

    Excellent analysis!

    Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read. - Groucho Marx
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    tennmike wrote: »
    Anyway, IMHO, if you are threatened to the point that you've drawn your firearm and the bad guy is still advancing, I don't think a warning shot will stop him.

    It might, or might not. But your point is well made -- it serves no real purpose and as was said, opens the door for eventually "requiring" a warning shot.

    In my limited experience, when I drew down on the guy and aimed, and I was steady and not yelling but just had him (them, actually) in the sights of my 1911, it caused them to change their minds and flee. Which was fine with me. This happened, by the way, prior to the concealed carry and castle laws in Texas.

    I repeat, I've got limited experience and have never been a LEO or similarly "authorized" but always a private citizen. But I did have a couple of occasions in which I pointed a gun at someone and was prepared to shoot if the guy kept coming. I had no intention of ever firing a warning shot.

    Also, during the self defense classes and instruction I've been through, and from individual guidance from people like my Dad or Uncle or LEOs who were pals, not one of them has ever suggested a warning shot. I've also read several books on self defense (Ayoob, etc) and cannot remember anyone recommending a warning shot.

    Bad idea, for numerous reasons.

    Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read. - Groucho Marx
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    My favorite opinion on the concept of "Warning Shots" is a quote out of the movie Phantasm:

    "Jody: Now, remember: you don't aim a gun at a man unless you intend to shoot him.
    And, you don't shoot a man unless you intend to kill him.
    No warning shots. Hey, you listening to me?
    No warning shots. Warning shots are b_ s_.
    You shoot to kill, or you don't shoot at all.
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • coolgunguycoolgunguy Senior Member Posts: 6,413 Senior Member
    The idea is ridiculous, and the people proposing it are idiots. The simple fact of the matter is, once 'allowed', it's GOING to be expected. "Mr. Smith, please explain to the jury why you didn't fire a warning shot...is it possible that you forgot you are allowed by law to do so, or did you just WANT to kill someone?"

    As others have stated, if the time has come to fire your weapon it shouldn't be fired in the air or in any other 'safe' direction to 'warn' him/her, it should be fired at your assailant and for maximum effect. If the badguy didn't recognize any warning signs up to that point, that's his problem, not mine.
    "Bipartisan" usually means that a bigger than normal deception is happening.
    George Carlin
  • gunrunner428gunrunner428 Senior Member Posts: 1,018 Senior Member
    You mean *gasp* Unca Joe Biden was WRONG when he tells us we should fire two shots from our double-barreled shotguns into the air to scare off any possible prowlers? (Thereby violating the law against discharging a firearm in a populated area, in most jurisdictions).

    Say it ain't so!!!
  • olesniperolesniper Senior Member Posts: 3,750 Senior Member
    In a SD situation.......if I pull the trigger, the sights are gonna be lined up with center mass.
    Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil: For I carry a .308 and not a .270
  • topguntopgun Member Posts: 128 Member
    In the unlikely event that my first shot misses, the perp should consider that to be a "warning shot".
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    coolgunguy wrote: »
    The idea is ridiculous, and the people proposing it are idiots. The simple fact of the matter is, once 'allowed', it's GOING to be expected. "Mr. Smith, please explain to the jury why you didn't fire a warning shot...is it possible that you forgot you are allowed by law to do so, or did you just WANT to kill someone?"

    Exactly the sort of drivel that might be used in a civil proceeding by the grieving seven commonlaw wives and fifteen children of the deceased.

    "Legalizing" a warning shot is silly. I'm curious just how that got started... some well meaning idiot who's looking for a vote in November? Duh.

    Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read. - Groucho Marx
  • tennmiketennmike Senior Member Posts: 25,957 Senior Member
    I can see how firing a warning shot, even into a safe backstop, could have legal problems. The only way it would work is if the laws already in force are combed to take out any that make firing a warning shot also liable for a charge of reckless endangerment. Easy way to get caught in a situation where the warning shot was legal (if the bill passes) and still be charged with a crime.

    And then, the way these things progress, eventually a bill will be passed requiring a warning shot first. Best leave the sleeping dog alone.
    Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.


  • NNNN Senior Member Posts: 23,940 Senior Member
    DoctorWho wrote: »
    My favorite opinion on the concept of "Warning Shots" is a quote out of the movie Phantasm:

    "Jody: Now, remember: you don't aim a gun at a man unless you intend to shoot him.
    And, you don't shoot a man unless you intend to kill him.
    No warning shots. Hey, you listening to me?
    No warning shots. Warning shots are b_ s_.
    You shoot to kill, or you don't shoot at all.

    JODY, isn't that the guy that moves in on your girl when you go to war?
    A Veteran is someone that served in the Military, it does not matter where they served.
  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 10,152 Senior Member
    Gene L wrote: »
    It's forbidden almost everywhere. Maybe because of that, I don't know of any cases where a bystander was wounded or killed due to a warning shot.

    To the point, The National Sheriff's Association wrote about this about ten years ago. Their conclusion was not a strict universal condemnation I expected. It's mostly a very bad idea, they concluded, but there are exceptions (however rare.) Cited were certain situations, like in one particular case with Hispanic clients in a bar, where deputies routinely fired warning shots to break up fights. It gave the fighters an excuse to quit without losing face and de-escalated the situation. The bar owner even put a place in the ceiling for this purpose.

    I've never fired a warning shot in my years of law enforcement, but know of at least twice when it happened. The first time a fellow officer was getting pounded and cranked off a round to get the guy off him. It worked. More recently, a prisoner escaped from a deputy at a doctor's office (where the nurse insisted the deputy take off the handcuffs.) The warning shot didn't work but we caught the guy later that day.

    In both cases, and in everywhere I worked, it was against policy, and should remain against policy. In rural areas, the chance of damaging someone is less, so I wouldn't say NEVER. No harm, no foul. We weren't supposed to be using flashlights as weapons, either, but my former boss was getting his butt kicked by a drunken former football player and he cleaned him out with a Maglight.

    Nowadays, there are better options, like TASERs. But I would never rule out any option for some deputy outnumbered and alone in taking care of business. Knowing that if someone got wounded who wasn't supposed to, there would be a lot of liability.

    Ignore this post and forgive me. I was looking at it from a LEO perspective since it's a matter of Policy almost everywhere and addressed in all manner of training. And I can't think of a single reason why a citizen would want to fire a warning shot. With non-LEOs, there is so far as I know no law or policy addressing the issue of warning shots, neither making it legal or on its face, illegal. However, as a non LEO, it's a really, really bad idea. It happens, though...these are called "misses."
    Not too many problems you can't fix
    With a 1911 and a 30-06
  • JermanatorJermanator Senior Member Posts: 15,110 Senior Member
    samzhere wrote: »
    "Legalizing" a warning shot is silly. I'm curious just how that got started... some well meaning idiot who's looking for a vote in November? Duh.
    This is the knee jerk reaction politicians had to this case...
    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/florida-woman-who-fired-warning-shot-could-get-60-years/
    She went out of danger, went to the garage, grabbed a gun, came back in the house, and fired a "warning shot". If they wanted to make a difference in that case, I think they should look into their mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines that tie a judges hands as opposed to legalizing warning shots.
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