The Florida House and Senate have started moving forward with measures that would allow people with concealed-weapons licenses to carry guns on the grounds of churches and other religious institutions that include schools.
But as with past failed efforts, a Senate proposal (SB 1048) approved Thursday by the Judiciary Committee would prohibit firearm possession during hours when schools or day-care centers are operating.
Also, two South Florida Republicans — who have teamed with Democrats to block other pro-gun measures in recent years — sought assurances from bill sponsor Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, that he won’t continue to advance the proposal if the school-hour requirement is altered. The requirement was added as an amendment to the bill Thursday.
Baxley, who along with other supporters say churchgoers need to be able to defend themselves from violence, indicated he will try to avoid changes in the bill.
“We’re looking at function, rather than what is the property, is it a school, is it a church,” Baxley said after the meeting. “In order to protect all these congregants that meet in these communities of faith and their property rights, I intend to try my very best to try to abide by that commitment that allowed some of these folks to vote with me today.”
A similar House bill (HB 1419) was backed 7-3 in a party-line vote Wednesday by the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee.
Florida law allows religious facilities to be open to people who have concealed-weapons licenses and are armed. However, state law prohibits people from carrying guns at schools.
Kate Kile, the Tallahassee leader of the gun-violence prevention group Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America, said the group will not object as long as the measure maintains that guns are restricted while students are on campus during school hours or for extracurricular events.
“How people hold their words, I don’t know,” Kile said.
Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, and Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, warned Baxley that the measure could lose votes if it fails to maintain the prohibition on guns during school hours. Flores and Garcia have helped block other pro-gun bills in the past.
“I would say agreeing to changes to what is in this bill now, I think would violate a certain level of trust that we have amongst each other as colleagues, as senators,” Flores said. “I know that is nothing you would ever do, and what we’re hoping … as we move forward, that it’s important for us to deal with this specific issue and other issues don’t cloud that. Because if we can’t get that commitment, there might be a different vote.”
Lawmakers backing the bill pointed to a deadly shooting in November at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
On Nov. 5, 26 people were killed and 20 others were injured when a gunman started firing into a Baptist church from across the street, before making his way into the building. The gunman, who later died of a self-inflicted wound, was shot twice as he exited the church.
House Criminal Justice Chairman Ross Spano, a Dover Republican and co-sponsor of the House measure, called the proposal personal.
“I attend a church that has a school during the week, and our pastor has received death threats,” he said. “So we are faced with the unenviable decision of committing a third-degree felony for allowing our congregants to protect themselves. Not an enviable decision.”
–Jim Turner, News Service of Florida
Chris A Pickett says
I only go where I can carry. If I have to go to a govt building or other place where I make sure I have something else that can be used in an emergency to protect myself and my loved ones.
j. michael kelley says
It is, in my humble opinion, totally inappropriate to invoke the Father and the Son with ammunition in this headline for, as I can see no other reason than to “catch ones eye”. The same article would have played as well with simply the headline “Lawmakers favor guns in Churches”. Politics is its own identity with no need to include the Deity.
“Politics is its own identity with no need to include the Deity.” Our sentiments exactly. That’s why the headline.
Lilly Makarov says
I do own and carry. I have never thought about having to arm and protect myself in church, however, times have changed. I think that should be each individuals right, as l9ng as it is legal.
William Ratigan says
I bet the people who complain the most about this would be the ones who would seldom set foot in a church.
Barbara Kipnis says
And are concealed weapons allowed in the state legislature?
This bill is about restoring the private property rights of churches, synagogues, and other religious institutions and their right to choose to allow firearms on church property. Under current (s. 790.115) the state has been prohibiting firearms on church property, period, if at any time the church has a child care, daycare, or pre-school program on church property.BTW, I carry as well.
Lock and load
God helps those who help themselves
According the VP Mike Pence we have no need for health care, He recently said “if people would just return to churches.” there would be no need for Doctors and medicine because God will heal them. I can only assume God will protect church goers from shooters. If someone gets shot in church it must have been Gods will. I guess you can also your comic books as shields just in case God is asleep at the wheel or is really just a fable.
@ Blood money and a rusty cross
God is watching and she is not amused by Republican butt boys crawling on their bellies to the NRA to brown-nose for its blood soaked support.
nra russian money
@ trumpster: “According the VP Mike Pence we have no need for health care, He recently said “if people would just return to churches.” there would be no need for Doctors and medicine because God will heal them.
The quote was entirely fabricated. There is no public record of Pence ever saying such a thing.
As if jesus would have used a gun, thats laughable, if you need a gun to leave the house, please just do everyone a favor and stay home
I think you folks just need a better class of God. Give Shiva, Buddha, Odin, Allah, Krishna, Vishnu or Thor a test drive around the block.
The bad guys are going to bring in guns anyway. At least there might be some good guys with guns to take the assholes out!
Iva hadit says
Glad I don’t waste my time in church.
Born and Raised Here says
I’m all for it. To many crazies, going after us law abidng Church goers. Don’t interupt me when I’m in Prayer with my Almighty.