Friday, February 3, 2017

SB 610 -- Liability of business that prohibits CWL carry.

Analysis of Florida Senate Bill 610 -- Liability of a business that prohibits CWL carry:
copyright by jon gutmacher

A new bill was just filed in the Florida Senate by Senator Steube, that I like, but has its flaws.  In essence, the bill states that any business that prohibits a CWL holder from carrying a concealed firearm or weapon is liable to that CWL holder for any injury or damage if the person is attacked by another person or vicious or wild animal, including costs and attorney fees.  The protection extends only to the CWL holder, and not to any family members or guests with him, and only if there is a preponderance of evidence that had the person been allowed to carry -- injury (or extent of injury) would have been prevented.

You can probably tell that one flaw in the bill is that family members and guests who a CWL holder would normally protect -- aren't included in this bill. That would be easy to add, and should be.

There is also a subsection (5) that requires the business clearly display a notice of the prohibition, and that the business is responsible for any damage due to that.   That subsection has a hidden DANGER that the courts might interpret this language as giving such a sign the "force of law", and thereby instantly making any entry by a CWL holder contrary to such a sign -- an automatic "criminal trespass".

Of course,  there's a VERY EASY FIX to that,  and I've added the fix in red italics into the bill, which follows at the end of this article.  You might want to email or write Senator Steube with my suggestion, if you like it.   Here's the actual bill:

By Senator Steube
23-00318A-17 2017610__
Page 1 of 4
CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.
1 A bill to be entitled
2 An act relating to firearms; creating s. 768.38, F.S.;
3 providing legislative intent; requiring a business,
4 organization, or entity that prohibits a concealed
5 weapon or firearm licensee from carrying a weapon or
6 firearm onto its property to assume certain
7 responsibility for the safety and defense of such
8 licensee; providing that the responsibility of such
9 business, organization, or entity extends to the
10 conduct of certain people and animals; providing a
11 cause of action for a concealed weapon or firearm
12 licensee who incurs injury, death, damage, or loss as
13 the result of certain acts or attacks occurring on the
14 property of such business, organization, or entity or
15 on other specified properties; authorizing a licensee
16 to recover attorney fees and specified costs;
17 specifying a statute of limitations for bringing such
18 action; requiring a business, organization, or entity
19 with such prohibition to clearly display specified
20 information; specifying requirements that a plaintiff
21 must prove to prevail in a cause of action; providing
22 an effective date.
24 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
26 Section 1. Section 768.38, Florida Statutes, is created to
27 read:
28 768.38 Responsibility of property owner.—
29 (1) The Legislature intends to find a balance between the
30 right of a concealed weapon or firearm licensee to carry a
31 concealed weapon or firearm in order to exercise the right of
32 self-defense and the right of a property owner or entity in
23-00318A-17 2017610__
Page 2 of 4

33 charge of a property to exercise control over such property.
34 (2) A business, organization, or entity, including, but not
35 limited to, a private business or a not-for-profit entity, which
36 prohibits a concealed weapon or firearm licensee from carrying a
37 weapon or firearm onto the property of such business,
38 organization, or entity assumes absolute custodial
39 responsibility, when the licensee is prevented from carrying a
40 weapon or firearm due to the prohibition, for the safety and
41 defense of the licensee against any unlawful or reckless act by
42 another person, or any attack by a vicious or wild animal, on
43 the owner’s property or on any property that the licensee is
44 required to traverse in order to travel to and from the location
45 where the licensee’s weapon or firearm is stored.
46 (3) The responsibility of the business, organization, or
47 entity for the safety and defense of a licensee under this
48 section extends to the conduct of other members of the public;
49 trespassers; employees of the business, organization, or entity;
50 vicious animals; or wild animals.
51 (4)(a) A concealed weapon or firearm licensee who suffers
52 bodily injury or death, incurs economic loss or expense, or
53 incurs property damage or any other compensable loss as the
54 result of an unlawful or reckless act by another person, or an
55 attack by a vicious or wild animal, occurring on the property of
56 such business, organization, or entity, or on any property that
57 the licensee is required to traverse in order to travel to and
58 from the location where the licensee’s weapon or firearm is
59 stored, while the licensee is prevented from carrying a weapon
60 or firearm due to a prohibition by the business, organization,
61 or entity has a cause of action against the business,
23-00318A-17 2017610__
Page 3 of 4
62 organization, or entity. In addition to damages, the licensee is
63 entitled to reasonable attorney fees, court costs, expert
64 witness costs, and other costs necessary to bring the cause of
65 action.
66 (b) The statute of limitations for such an action is 2
67 years after the date of the occurrence giving rise to the
68 injury, death, damage, or loss.

69 (5) A business, organization, or entity that prohibits a
70 concealed weapon or firearm licensee from carrying a weapon or
71 firearm on its property must clearly display, along with any
72 image or language of prohibition, notice that the licensee is
73 under the custodial responsibility of the business,
74 organization, or entity.  However, such sign shall not have the operation of law to make any entry with a concealed firearm or weapon a trespass unless the armed individual is first asked to leave by an employee or representative of the business or entity, and refuses.

75 (6) To prevail in an action brought under this section, the
76 plaintiff must show by a preponderance of the evidence all of
77 the following:

78 (a) The plaintiff had a license to carry a concealed weapon
79 or firearm under s. 790.06 at the time of the incident giving
80 rise to the action.

81 (b) The business, organization, or entity prohibited the
82 plaintiff from carrying a concealed weapon or firearm on the
83 property of the business, organization, or entity.

84 (c) The business, organization, or entity was not required
85 to prohibit the carrying of a concealed weapon or firearm on its
86 property pursuant to state or federal law.

87 (d) The plaintiff suffered bodily injury or death, incurred
88 economic loss or expense, or incurred property damage or any
89 other compensable loss as the result of an unlawful or reckless
90 act by another person, or an attack by a vicious or wild animal

Page 4 of 4
91 occurring on the property of such business, organization, or
92 entity, or on any property that the licensee was required to
93 traverse in order to travel to and from the location where the
94 licensee’s weapon or firearm was stored, while the licensee was
95 prevented from carrying a weapon or firearm due to the
96 prohibition by the business, organization, or entity.
97 (e) Such injury, death, loss, expense, or damage resulted
98 directly or indirectly from an unlawful or reckless act by
99 another person, or from an attack by a vicious or wild animal,
100 which could reasonably have been prevented but for the
101 prohibition by the business, organization, or entity.
102 Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2017.

All in all,  a great idea -- and I see Unified Sportsmen and the NRA are also backing it.  Hopefully, with grass roots support it will pass -- but with the suggestions I have outlined.  If not,  the courts might really screw it up later.

You may freely quote or distribute this article for non-commercial purposes so long as I am given full credit as the author -- ie -- "from a blog article by Jon Gutmacher"

Monday, January 30, 2017

What's wrong with SB 140 -- Open carry???

What's Wrong with SB 140 -- Open carry???
by jon gutmacher

What's wrong with SB 140 -- which allows "open carry" by a CWL holder in Florida???

Well, if you like open carry -- absolutely nothing.    In fact,  from that standpoint, it's a very well drafted bill.   Likewise,  if you just like concealed carry -- the areas eliminated from the list of prohibited places previously found in Florida Statute 790.06(12), are more than welcome.   But, assuming it can pass in its entirety (doubtful), there's one thing they missed that likely should be added, and I'll go into that later in this story.  But, all in all -- great bill, if not a bit ambitious for what will probably get passed.

The essence of the bill is that it allows open or concealed carry by a CWL holder, and also allows CWL carry (open or concealed) at schools, colleges, legislative meetings at all levels, airport terminals other than the "sterile areas", and court houses except that courthouse personnel can require you check your weapons upon entry.  While I personally prefer concealed -- open carry doesn't really bother me, although I doubt the Legislature would allow open carry of deadly weapons and firearms on school grounds, airports, legislative meetings, or colleges.  Likewise,  I have a major concern that passage of "open carry" could actually adversely impact "concealed carry" in a big way.

How could that happen?

Well,  I just think open carry would bother lots of business folks, and that poses a danger to the rest of the CWL community if  what follows is poorly drafted legislation to protect a business by allowing them to legally prevent entry by posting a "No Weapons or Firearms" sign.  Certainly,  a reasonable idea to prevent "open carry" in a private business where such is "intentional" vs. "inadvertent"  -- but if it includes those CWL holders carrying "concealed" -- big, major problems!!!


Well, currently the law is that if you carry concealed with a CWL -- as a customer, you're breaking no law entering a place that has a sign "No Firearms" -- although if asked to leave -- you must, and without argument. Read the section in my book about "armed trespass", and you'll understand.  But, if the Legislature passes a law that says such a sign must be obeyed, then disobeying such a sign would become an automatic criminal "trespass", and an "armed trespass", at that.

So, how do you cure that problem if it arises -- and still protect a business that has issues with open carry???

Easy -- you just draft the legislation so that the sign only applies to "open carry".  By only mentioning "open carry" the legal rules of construction used by courts mean it doesn't apply to CWL carry that is "concealed".   Add a provision that only "intentional" vs. "inadvertent display" is unlawful (in case your shirt pulls up and exposes the firearm) -- and all your problems are solved!   Everyone's happy! (sorta)

And . . . as to the thing they "missed" in the bill?

That would be including an amendment to Florida Statute 790.115, that forbids firearms and weapons on school grounds.  Right now subsection (2)(e) of that statute acts as a prohibition to CWL holders to carry on school property.  If you just amend it slightly -- as I've done here -- that problem is cured:
(sections in red italics would be eliminated)

(e) The penalties of this subsection shall not apply to persons licensed under s.790.06. Persons licensed under s. 790.06 shall be punished as provided in s. 790.06(12), except that a licenseholder who unlawfully discharges a weapon or firearm on school property as prohibited by this subsection commits a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

So,  let's hope that at least the "concealed" portions of this bill pass, and for those who love open carry -- I actually think it's a well written bill, although I'd rather include the issues I see coming with "No Weapons or Firearms" signs included, (to head off that problem before it arises),  and likewise, include the changes I've outlined that are needed to F.S. 790.115(2)(e), so that there is no confusion between the old law, and new.

Anyway -- my thanks to Senator Steube for a well done bill, and to the NRA , Unified Sportsmen, and Florida Carry for their work on it.
p.s. -- this is part of a post I recently did on Facebook in reply to a comment.  I think it might help in understanding this very important issue if open carry passes:

While I sympathize with your view, legally, you are not correct, assuming the Legislature passes a sign law -- which it will be forced to do if open carry passes. The question then becomes how the law is drafted -- because (as I've explained in my blog article) if such a law is not written specifically to ONLY prohibit "open carry" -- it will be interpreted by the courts as applying to both open and concealed carry -- thus, obliterating concealed carry in 90% of the places you can go today, sign or not. Why??? Because once you have a law that says a property owner or business may post a "No Weapons" or "No Firearms" sign which shall prohibit entry to anyone so armed -- it takes on the "force of law", and now, instead of the property owner having to tell you to leave (thus revoking your "guest" or "invitee" status) -- the sign does it for them. That means it is an "automatic trespass", and a felony "armed trespass" at that. Of course, you can also write into any such law that "inadvertent" exposure is not a violation, or alternatively, that such exposure must be "intentional" -- which should be written in. But . . . since Florida is a "tourist" state -- and since the Chamber of Commerce, Disney, Universal, and every other hotel, mall, and restaurant will be under pressure to have signs to prevent pissing off their non-gun customers (as well as from insurers who will demand this in all their coverage policies) -- you better believe the Legislature will have to pass such legislation -- and in past unsuccessful bills -- they NEVER got the language right to apply ONLY to "open carry". So, that's my two cents. I've warned about it every year open carry is proposed -- because the folks in the Legislature don't understand it, lots of you don't understand it, and unless we make sure EVERYBODY understands it -- your CWL is gonna be semi-worthless if such a sign bill ever shows its ugly face, and my warning and cure isn't included in the bill.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Steering Wheel Holsters in Florida

For some reason there seems to be a huge discussion on steering wheel holsters going around on Facebook these days,  and to try and settle that for all the folks too lazy to read my book -- here's a column I did for the Florida Association of State Troopers last year:

The Legal Corner – Steering Wheel Holsters
copyright Jon H.  Gutmacher, Esq. 2016

It seems steering wheel holsters are suddenly becoming very popular, and there are more than several different models out there, with different mounting positions depending on the brand, and model.  Most mount directly under and to the steering column by a clip or hooks, some can mount on the side of the steering column, and I’ve also seen ones attached to the very front of the console just to the right of the driver’s right calf area, as well as to the left or right side of the drivers seat.  Likewise, there are also models that mount the holster directly between the driver’s thigh area on the front portion of the front seat,  held there by straps.  Very few of them have a top strap.  But, the question for law enforcement – besides the safety factor of knowing where these things are – is how legal are they under Florida law?

Two questions immediately occur at that point – does the driver have a valid CWL, or are they just carrying “securely encased” per F.S. 790.25(5)?   If the question is no CWL, and carrying supposedly “securely encased” – what’s the law?

The starting point is F.S. 790.001(17), which defines “securely encased” as including “snapped in a holster”.   Since the courts liberally construe the statute – that means a properly holstered firearm can be kept anywhere in a vehicle legally, even in the open.  However, if the holster is not inside a console, glove compartment, or other closed container – the law then requires that the holster also has a strap, flap, or other mechanism that crosses over the top of the pistol grip that must be undone or opened before the pistol can be withdrawn.  Even a simple velcro strap should be enough.  Not much is required.  But, if it’s not strapped or flapped – it’s not “securely encased”.

So – is a pistol in a steering wheel holster that is not strapped legal?   The answer is “no” if the carry is only per “securely encased”.  However,  if the individual has a CWL – the answer depends on where the holster is placed.  And, that brings up the fact that while a CWL holder may lawfully carry concealed “on or about his person” – he or she may not normally “open carry”.  (although there are certain exceptions for momentary non-threatening open display, lawful self defense,  when you’re on your home or business premises, and those allowed by F.S. 790.25).  F.S. 790.01 & 790.053.  Open carry of a firearm – is normally a second degree misdemeanor, whether you have a CWL or not.  F.S. 790.053(3).  Concealed carry of a firearm would apply only to a non-CWL, and is a third degree felony.  F.S. 790.10.  Thus, if the gun cannot easily be seen from the outside of the vehicle – it is normally going to be considered “concealed” because it is not open to “ordinary sight”.  If it’s “concealed” – it’s legal for a CWL holder, no matter where it is.  And to be really technical – if all you can see is the holster – and not the firearm or a readily identifiable part of the firearm – the “firearm” is still “concealed”.   Having a holster visible may certainly supply “reasonable suspicion” that a firearm is near – but that’s the most that just seeing a holster will ever amount to.   Of course, if you see a holster – take the precautions you believe are necessary for your safety.  Hope that helps, and stay safe.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Can you legally carry CWL in the bar area of a restaurant? F.S. 790.06(12)

A repetitive question I keep getting is worthy of some comment, so here's the question, and here's my answer on this somewhat "grey area" issue -- is a table used for food service in a bar precluded to CWL carry per F.S. 790.06(12).

In your book you mention "if you go into a restaurant you can’t go in the bar or even walk thru the bar." Many restaurants (Outback) now days have "bar areas" that are not devoted primarily to serving alcohol. To be clear, I’m talking about booths and high tops in the bar area that are more like any other part of the restaurant. For instance:

They are often times seated by the hostess, kids are regularly seated in these areas, full meals are served here, and they are even non-smoking. When I look around most people are primarily ordering meals, not alcohol, and it appears that food service is certainly over 50%. So, I would think this sort of bar would not be excluded to CWL carry. And for walking thru the area, what if walking thru is necessary to get to your table in a non-bar area, or to get to a bathroom? Shouldn’t being in a "common area" mean it is not a "bar area".


OK, good question, and here’s my answer – and of course, it’s pure opinion because there is no current case law, plus – it really could be argued either way if you add certain constitutional issues and rules of "lenity" in law:

The statute says:

"Any portion of an establishment licensed to dispense alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises, which portion of the establishment is primarily devoted to such purpose" It doesn't say "exact area or exact place" -- it says "portion".

Based on the normal meaning of "portion", and normal meaning of "bar area", I think anywhere in the actual "bar area" is within its "portion" even if that also equally is used for food service, or even "primarily" for food service. Same for walking thru a bar area. Anything else is a legal risk.

But, would I personally carry in such a situation – especially in a place like the Outback?

If it was night time -- probably.  But, I wouldn't be starting out with the intention of being in the "bar area".  It would just be that I somehow wound up there, and was pretty confident nothing would happen.

Why, "probably"?

Well, as a practical matter vs. legal --  I just don't think it matters much unless someone knows you have it, or you broadcast it. The risk of any issue coming up in most restaurants, or being found out, is minimal to zero.  Plus, while an armed robbery, terrorist incident, or mental meltdown could possibly go down inside, the real danger (to me)  is the parking lot at night.  So, leaving my firearm in the vehicle is not my idea of a smart idea -- although, quite frankly -- I personally would try to avoid ever being in any "bar area" other than as a "walk thru".  But, on the other hand,  if  temper type problems will happen -- my bet is it will usually start in the bar.  So, again, another reason to  avoid it. 

Likewise,   if I have a CWL and firearm on me, I'm gonna pass on getting involved in ANYTHING other than an armed robbery or something where life is actually in serious, imminent risk.  Anything less is just asking for later trouble.  Maybe, if I also had a non-lethal weapon I'd consider it -- but if you get involved -- I guarantee the cops will respond, and if you are not a "certified hero" because you saved someone's life  -- testy questions will likely arise as to what you were doing in the "bar area" with a firearm.  A situation I don't want to be in.

So, that's the analysis on my part.  However,  while I'll do everything to avoid it -- if the place is primarily a restaurant, and I have to "walk thru" a bar area to get to my table or rest room -- I'll personally take that risk.  I think almost anyone would understand that situation,  and would give you the greatest leeway in a legal argument -- although I once again say -- avoid it if you can, as the smart legal interpretation is not in your favor.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

How good is Senate Bill 128 -- burden of proof in immunity

How good is SB 128?
copyright 2017 by jon gutmacher **

       One of the major issues in Florida self defense law has been the burden of proof in an immunity hearing.  In other words – if you are charged with a crime for using self defense – you have the opportunity to challenge the prosecution under the immunity laws in Chapter 776 of the Florida statutes, and if successful, have the charges dismissed.  Since all other types of immunity hearings require the government to prove you are “not entitled to immunity” by a preponderance of the evidence (ie: more than 50%) – why is self defense immunity the exception – as in such hearings the defendant is the one who has the “burden of proof” to establish entitlement to immunity by a preponderance of the evidence?   Something very difficult to do without your attorney first spending months gathering evidence, taking depositions, and doing all sorts of other things while you continue to sweat bullets being on bond, having bail restrictions on travel, having to attend multiple court hearings, missing work, and otherwise having the stigma of facing serious criminal charges.  Thus, for the past few years various bills have been introduced in the Legislature to change that – but so far – no good.

       Anyway – we now have a new bill filed to correct the situation, Senate bill 128 – but is it any good, and what are its chances of passing???

       Well, I’ve attached the bill underneath this explanation for you to take a look at, and my guess is that it will not pass – at least not in its present format.   Plus, it has the usual drafting problems.

      The first problem (section 4 is what is new, and what this is about) is that it requires the State to prove you’re not entitled to immunity “beyond a reasonable doubt”.  That is the law for a jury trial – but in a pretrial motion – that would be a complete, historic novelty – plus, totally unfair for the prosecution.  In any type of constitutional or immunity type hearing the burden, no matter who has it, has always been “by a preponderance of the evidence”.  Obviously, that is not going to be changed because of this bill.  So, to get it passed, there would have to be a major amendment of the language that sets the standard as putting the burden on the government by a “preponderance of the evidence”,  at a "pretrial" immunity hearing, and leaving “beyond a reasonable doubt” as the standard for trial.  This is a drafting issue that should have been resolved BEFORE the bill was filed – not after.

       Likewise, recent Florida case law has pointed out that the immunity question is just as important to civil cases.  For instance, if you’re sued by someone injured by your use of self defense.  Shouldn’t the same standard apply to a civil case?  Shouldn’t civil cases also be included?  In fact, since there is conflict between the appellate courts of this State on a very important issue – whether a finding of immunity in a criminal case or subsequent civil case is thereafter binding on any and all other civil cases that might arise (think about several persons injured in a self defense incident, and maybe even their family members  – each one of them sues you civilly, one at a time.  That would take years, and probably a few million to defend them all, besides all the stress and personal time it would take.  But, if you have been found immune in one – shouldn’t that immunity apply to all – otherwise what really is any civil immunity worth?

      So, the answer (to me) is that this bill is unrealistic in the standard of proof it seeks to impose on the prosecution, pretrial, and that needs to be amended for it to have any chance of passing.  Likewise, and maybe for a future bill – somebody needs to address the civil issue problem, as I understand that combining them might kill the chances for both.

      Anyway – here’s the main part of the statute in section (1) and the new bill wording in section (4):

Florida Senate - 2017 SB 128
By Senator Bradley
5-00200B-17 2017128__
Page 1 of 2
CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.
1 A bill to be entitled
2 An act relating to self-defense immunity; amending s.
3 776.032, F.S.; requiring that the burden of proof in a
4 criminal prosecution be on the party seeking to
5 overcome the immunity claim under certain
6 circumstances; providing an effective date.
8 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
10 Section 1. Subsection (1) of section 776.032, Florida
11 Statutes, is republished, and subsection (4) is added to that
12 section, to read:
13 776.032 Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action
14 for justifiable use or threatened use of force.—
15 (1) A person who uses or threatens to use force as
16 permitted in s. 776.012, s. 776.013, or s. 776.031 is justified
17 in such conduct and is immune from criminal prosecution and
18 civil action for the use or threatened use of such force by the
19 person, personal representative, or heirs of the person against
20 whom the force was used or threatened, unless the person against
21 whom force was used or threatened is a law enforcement officer,
22 as defined in s. 943.10(14), who was acting in the performance
23 of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself
24 or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person
25 using or threatening to use force knew or reasonably should have
26 known that the person was a law enforcement officer. As used in
27 this subsection, the term “criminal prosecution” includes
28 arresting, detaining in custody, and charging or prosecuting the
29 defendant.
30 (4) In a criminal prosecution, once a prima facie claim of
31 self-defense immunity from criminal prosecution has been raised
32 by the defendant at a pretrial immunity hearing, the burden of
Florida Senate - 2017 SB 128
5-00200B-17 2017128__

** you may freely copy, download, or distribute this document for non-commercial purposes so long as you give full credit to my authorship.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

OK -- So . . . My book now has competition!

When I first started "Florida Firearms" almost 25 years ago – there was virtually nothing out there that explained Florida or Federal firearm laws, zero on weapons, and a maybe just a little bit on Florida self defense.  "Florida Firearms" changed all that – forever – and provided the first reliable source where instructors and law enforcement could go for an actual answer how all these laws worked, and what the "right" answers were.   Sure, there were lots of books on the practical side of self defense – most of them very good.  But, that didn't keep you out of legal trouble.  It didn't tell you about "mandatory" prison sentences.  It didn't explain all the nuances of legal carry, purchase restrictions, school zones, NFA issues, or all those other grey areas that nobody really had an answer for.  And, over the years – the book became a staple of those who really wanted to know how the law worked – and what they needed to be aware of.

Of course . . . there was resistance.  I remember such statements as "who are you to tell me what the laws are?"

Well . . . I was a former prosecutor and police legal advisor who had tried several homicide cases, handled hundreds of appeals including ones in the U.S. Supreme Court, served as a chairman of Florida Bar committees, and had been writing featured monthly columns regarding firearm issues in such publications as Florida Rod & Gun Trader, The Sportman's Gazette, Rods & Guns Magazine, and wrote for law enforcement.   I had also taken the time to become certified by the NRA as a firearms instructor, and Refuse to be a Victim instructor, and was one of the four primary organizers of the Florida "Freedom Rally" in Tallahassee in 1994 that was crucial to stopping a Florida assault weapons bill, and was the second largest rally ever held on the Capital steps up to that point.

As I got deeper into firearm issues, my practice also took on more and more of those cases.  I handled and successfully tried a number of second degree murder self defense cases, quite a few aggravated assault cases, and every type of case you can think of regarding concealed carry issues – from vehicles, boats, airports, seaports, hotels, hospitals, schools, military institutions – you name it – I handled it.  Plus, I was one of a very few attorneys who had extensive experience with BATFE, and also regulatory matters with the Florida Department of Agriculture.  I even did a few cases involving knives, some on ammunition, a couple on machine guns, several involving antique firearms, and around five federal NICS database corrections when the feds either got my client mixed up with somebody else, or the computer data was just wrong.

What I'm saying is that – not only was I writing the book – I was "living" the book.  And in between, I was answering tons of email questions on situations the book didn't cover – questions that were then researched, and eventually found their way into the book.  Which is one of the reasons why, after almost twenty four years – I continue to answer legal questions from my website – for free.

Likewise, my book is the only one on the market that is updated free on the web (at least twice yearly),  and is the only one that I know of that is updated in print at least once a year, so that the latest information is always available.  I work on it 365 days of the year, and it is a work of personal pride.

So, when you see another book being touted in a gun store, gun range, or CWL class, and it's about Florida law, go ask yourself: Where did that information really come from?  If you put my book and the other together and compare them – I think you'll know.  There's only one book out there that really explains the law in depth, and accurately  – and it's by the guy that handled, and researched all those cases – me.  It has the latest information.  It's backed by free updates.  And is the "cutting edge" of the law that everyone else follows.  "Florida Firearms – Law, Use & Ownership" – now in it's 9th edition.   The leading book of its kind in the nation.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Question about what to do after non-deadly force incident

Opinion on what to do after non-deadly force situation:
copyright 2017 by jon gutmacher

I received an interesting email today that I thought was worth posting, including my response.  Hope this helps others --  and let me add that everyone should have self defense insurance if you carry any type of firearm or weapon, even non-deadly, and (shameless plug) really take the time to read and re-read the new chapters in the 9th edition on self defense.   Also,  there's a link on my website to CCW Safe -- what I consider to be the best of the three top self defense insurance plans out there.  The cost is extremely low, and the protection extremely high.   Anyway -- here's my question and answer:


I have a question about what to do after the use of less-than-deadly force, like pepper spray (which is a part of my everyday carry equipment). After use, the first thing I would think is to get to a safe location and then to immediately call 911 and report the incident.  How about after that? Should I stay in that safe location until the police arrive?  Go back to the scene? Go home? What would be the best course of action to put me in the best possible position legally, and aid the police (in that order)?


There are no fast rules for these things.  Pepper spray is definitely non-deadly force, and I fully support its use as a low level response to a reasonable imminent threat.  Your safety is the prime question -- and you must make a decision on that in the context of the moment and surroundings.  I would normally say that if you had to use pepper spray as a defense, that calling the police as soon as possible after is important.  There may be exceptions, but that would be the rule.  However, be very careful what you say.  "I was attacked and had to use pepper spray to defend myself".  If asked on more details aside from where, when, if there were any injuries, weapons, description or names of those involved, and your current location -- I would pass on saying "I'd rather not discuss that over the phone at this time".    If they send an officer  (doubtful unless the other individual made a report that "they were attacked") You must again be careful in what you say.  I've outlined that in the new 9th edition, and I really suggest you not only READ the three chapters on self defense -- but RE-READ them a few times, and even practice what I recommend.  Unless you mentally practice it -- it is doubtful you will be able to remember it when in a stress situation later on.

That's the best I can do on a pure "what if".

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