Gov. Rick Scott signed eight bills into law Wednesday and held a signing ceremony for a ninth, Senate Bill 130, making it a first-degree misdemeanor to fire a gun for recreational use in a residential area.
Scott also signed a bill (SB 228) that removes the crime of aggravated assault with a firearm from the list of crimes subject to the 10-20-Life law, a measure enacted in 1999 that was intended to reduce gun violence. The bill's sponsors were Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, and Rep. Neil Combee, R-Polk City, and it passed both houses unanimously.
Under the old 10-20-Life law, firing a gun required a judge to impose a mandatory 20-year prison sentence even if no one was injured, as occurred in the case of Orville Lee Wollard III, who fired a gunshot into the wall of his Polk County home after claiming his daughter's boyfriend had been abusive and violent.
Wollard, 60, rejected a prosecutor's plea offer of five years of probation. He demanded a jury trial and was convicted and is eligible to be released from prison in 2028, when he's 73 years old. Scott last fall denied Wollard's petition to be released from state prison, but if the bill enacted Wednesday was in effect, Wollard would be a free man. Scott said the new law is the right policy for the state.
"What I've tried to do as governor is listen to police chiefs, listen to sheriffs, listen to state attorneys, and this was legislation that was supported by our law enforcement community, and so it made sense, so that's why I signed it," Scott said.