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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Apr. 15, 201412:00 PM EST

First Amendment Foundation asks governor to veto 'warning shot' bill

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The First Amendment Foundation on Monday asked Gov. Rick Scott to veto what has become known as the “warning shot” bill because of a provision that would allow records to be expunged.

The bill (HB 89), which has passed the House and Senate, has drawn widespread attention because it would allow people to show guns or fire warning shots in self-defense if they feel threatened.

The bill also would allow criminal records to be expunged if people are found to have acted legally in self-defense and prosecutors do not pursue charges.

Barbara Petersen, president of the First Amendment Foundation, wrote to Scott that the bill “has grave implications for public oversight of our judicial and criminal justice systems” and is contrary to the public interest.

“The expunction provision … not only limits public oversight, but potentially could serve as a tool for obscuring law enforcement and prosecutorial misconduct, while also hindering the development of court precedence essential to understanding how and when the proposed use of force law applies,’’ Petersen wrote.

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