The Gun Writer TV special edition: An interview with ‘Stand Your Ground’ shooter Christian Gunter

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Looking back, Christian Gunter says it is better to be judged by 12 than carried by six.

Gunter was arrested Oct. 5 after shooting Roger Atlas in the lower abdomen, after the pair were engaged in a road rage incident on the Tamiami Trail.

Gunter, 22, faced aggravated battery with a firearm charges — a felony punishable by a minimum of 25 years in prison under Florida’s 10-20-Life Law.

But earlier this month, the State Attorneys Office dropped all charges against Gunter, largely due to the fact that Atlas’ stories conflicted with two surveillance videos of the shooting — a discrepancy Atlas said was caused because he was “not feeling well.”

I interviewed Gunter and his lawyer Sarasota Attorney Jeff Young Monday about the shooting, his brief stint in jail and his bout with the criminal justice system.

What he said should be required reading for everyone who carries a defensive firearm.

“I’m hanging in there, aside from $20,000 debt,” Gunter said. “I’ve gotta make the best of the situation. That’s all I can do.”

Young is working on getting the arrest — which will show up on Gunter’s records — expunged. And he’s petitioning the court to return the young man’s firearms.

Even though all charges have been dropped, Gunter declined to talk about the shooting, since prosecutors still have the ability — however unlikely — to refile charges. That ability ends after 120 days, Young said.

Gunter invoked his Fifth Amendment rights after the shooting. “The best advice you can get it to contact a lawyer,” he said. “Because that day, they were going to arrest me regardless, whether I talked or not.”

The surveillance video, which was obtained exclusively by the Herald-Tribune after the shooting, shows that Atlas — not Gunter — was the initial aggressor, so I asked Gunter why he thought he’s the one who ended up in handcuffs.

“I think it’s mostly politics,” Gunter said. “It’s like with domestic violence — if the cops show up, somebody’s going to jail. Unfortunately, I believe that needs to be changed because you shouldn’t be in fear to have to use your concealed carry permit to defend yourself. That’s why you have it. It’s just a shame. If I would go through it, you would go through it too. The law needs to change.”

Looking back, Gunter said there’s nothing he would have done differently. And he was effusive in his praise for Manasota Gun Traders — a group of gun owners that raised thousands of dollars for his defense, of which he’s a member.

“MGT and even members of other gun groups — they all came together to help me out on this,” he said.

— If we don’t run into each other at the range, you can reach me at (941) 284-8553, by email at lee.williams@heraldtribune.com or by regular mail, 1741 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You also can follow me on social media at facebook.com/TheGunWriter or Twitter.com/ht_gunwriter or watch us on our new YouTube Channel.

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About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.

21 Comments

  1. Republican gun nuts are mostly a threat to each other. Who would argue that a gun-waiving Republican is not a threat to another gun-waiver? If either of them survives, he can’t even be charged with a crime. This law is a license to kill gun crazies.

    • Wait a second! Hold all judgments. Nobody know if this kid who did the shooting is:

      1) A Hero
      2) A Villain
      3) Neither

      None of us were there. None of us know if he truly was in danger or trigger happy. Only the people that were there will no for sure.

      Somebody at the HT needs to interview the other guy so we can evaluate him. I’m not assuming he was the real aggressor or a victim.

      In the end, nobody will really know what happened except the people there. Still, I’d like to hear from the other party and make up my own mind!

  2. He’s exactly right a person should not be in fear of prosecution when it comes to using lethal force in a self-defense situation.

  3. Let me start with the obligatory – I am a gun owner and have no issues with them. I do have one with stand your ground. It leads to needless escalation. If you can leave a situation, you should and the law should require this as a first option. The law shouldn’t encourage confrontation, it should encourage a high bar for using potentially lethal force. Using the circular logic of Mr Gunter- he was in fear for his life because he thought the much bigger assailant would take his gun and use it on him. So this bootstraps his use of it and is protected by standing your ground. Its a crazy law that leads to simple arguments becoming gun battles.

    • “Its a crazy law that leads to simple arguments becoming gun battles.”

      So it’s the laws fault. Delete the law and no more arguments becoming gun battles. How novel.

        • “…won’t encourage…”

          How does a law “encourage” anything dummy?

          “Delete the law and no more arguments becoming gun battles”

          It was your strawman, dummy. You don’t seem too sharp.

          • You win the award for most logical fallacies in the least amount of words.

            Laws are specifically intended to encourage behavior otherwise what is their purpose? This law as I said before encourages armed confrontation.

    • How True! A Kid Wearing A Full Face Helmet And Straddling His Bike Was Afraid Of What??? Read The Gun Laws As Your Life Has To Be In Fear Of Death. Or For The Simple Minded. In Fear For Your Life Meaning Someone Has Physically Attacked You Or Has A Weapon And You’ve Attained Wounds From Somebody Attacking You. A Verbal Confrontation Gives Absolutely No One The Right To Deadly Force!! Gunter Should Never Be Able To Posses A Firearm Ever Again. The Video Shows Only A Verbal Confrontation Period!! And Because Of The Fact That Wearing A Helmet , Standing Behind His Bike In No Way Was Gunter Threatened Other Then By Words. In One Year As I’ve Read He’s Pulling Out A Gun?? I’m Shocked Atlas Didn’t Lay His Ass Out!!! Mr Gun Writer,You Claim To Be A Former Cop 100 Pounds Ago. You Know Damn Well GUNTER IS AS GUILTY As Sin! Remember, Zimmerman Got Off Because Somebody Was Phsyically On Top Of Him Banging His Head Against The Pavement. Hands On Is One Thing But Hands Off You Never Pull Out A Weapon. This Law Won’t Last Long Because Of Irrisponsible Kids To Young To Be Toting Around A Firearm.

  4. I do find it somewhat alarming that in non-editorial articles by various Herald-Trib writers that the H-T simultaneously supports gun ownership, gun usage, Stand Your Ground laws, and in the Beer Tab articles, drunkenness. Actually, omit the word ‘somewhat’ from that first sentence.

  5. The police don’t know or understand the Law re concealed weapons and self defense. There must be some restitution for a sham prosecution and costs for defense.

  6. Pingback: Roger Atlas talks pain meds, warning shots and getting shot by Christian Gunter - The Gun Writer

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