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The Future of Gun Laws in Florida

The state of Florida has always been at the top of the list for the number of criminal offenders that are convicted and serving time in prison. Florida has many gun laws, not necessarily strict, which has caused non-violent offenders to have sentences that are 167 percent over the national average. The gun laws in Florida serve in self-defense for the shooter, which gives them a strange perspective when you look at the laws.

The recent controversial trial and possible acquittal for George Zimmerman in the trial of the death of Trayvon Martin creates a perfect example of the complicated view of gun laws. Zimmerman's attorneys use laws of self-defense, which created controversy across the country. The Stand Your Ground law was sought primarily Zimmerman's to be his defense, but the trial also opened the doors of racial profiling and aggressive force in defense with a firearm. 

These issues provoked a racially-motivated murder and trial in the eyes of the public. MSNBC asked the question, "What would've been the outcome if Zimmerman had been black and Martin had been white?" "Would the verdict have been different?" Previous gun laws in these situations do not necessarily provide answers, and this discussion doesn't leave room for racial speculation.

A case that should answer those questions involves a middle-class black woman named Marissa Alexander in 2012. She fired a "warning shot" that hit the ceiling when being abused by her husband in their home in Jacksonville. Alexander received 20 years for a shot that was not directed towards her husband; she fell under the 10-20-life laws established in 1999.

• If a gun is not fired, then 10 years are required.
• Firing a gun with other felonies, must receive 20 years.
• Someone who fires a gun, physically hurting another, receives 25 to life.

This might have meant that if Zimmerman had shot and missed Trayvon Martin, he could be serving 20 years. All convictions found in Florida, regardless of motivation or reality, carry huge penalties if found guilty. 

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