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Gun-related accidents: What are your rights?

Local News
Press Conference: Deputies investigating after 1 dead when roofer's gun accidentally goes off

A growing number of accidental shootings have happened throughout the Tampa Bay in the last few weeks.

It's happened in a grocery storein a school cafeteria. and most recently, on a rooftop during a remodeling project.

Although these may be accidents, law enforcement officials and legislature have to determine if discharging a firearm was truely unintentional or simply negligent. 

So here is what Florida law dictates: 

"any person who … recklessly or negligently discharges a firearm outdoors on any property used primarily as the site of a dwelling … or zoned exclusively for residential use commits a misdemeanor of the first degree."

According to Florida law, if prosecutors want to press charges following an injury or killing by an unintentional firearm discharge, the person who fired the gun must meet a certain standard of "culpable negligence" or "disregard for human life."

Tampa Bay attorney Bryant Bryant Camareno believes that it's difficult for a prosecutor to prove negligence.

"If I were the investigating prosecutor in a one of these situations, I'd look to see if the gun was in a holster, and what kind of behavior was the shooter engaged in when the firearm went off," Camareno said. "But if there was no malice involved, and it was barely over the threshold of a negligent situation, the law is subjective enough to where it may be called an accident."

According to Camareno, whenever there's a gun-related death in Florida, then Florida Statute 775.087, otherwise known as the 10-20-life law kicks in, and the shooter would have a minimum mandatory sentene of 10 years in prison if a person was found criminally negligent.

If law enforcement deemts the incident as accidential, state prosecutors would not press charges, however it doesn't protect someone from civil liability, meaning a lawsuit from the victim or the victim's family.

Florida is among the ninth most dangerous state for gun-related accidents, according tothe CDC.

But Camereno believes that it's far more difficult to prove that unintential gun-related accidents are criminal.

"The thing about these laws is that they're so subjective," Camereno said. "But the take-away is that if everyone followed their concealed carry training, and kept firearms safely secured we wouldn't need to worry about these sort of things."

 


2017 firearm deaths

Here's a look at the 2017 firearm deaths in Florida and the U.S. Hover over the bar to see the exact number.

 

*The number of deaths per 100k total population. Source: CDC

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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