Floridians with concealed-weapons licenses would be able to carry firearms into areas now deemed “gun-free” under an array of measures that will be championed by Republican lawmakers during the first legislative session since mass killings at an Orlando nightclub and a Fort Lauderdale airport.
Proposals have been introduced to allow the more than 1.7 million people with concealed-carry licenses to bring guns to places such as college and university campuses, airport terminals and government meetings.
Gun-control advocates are also back in the Capitol opposing the expansion of concealed-carry laws or calling for limits on the kinds of guns and ammunition that can be sold. But after a couple of years in which groups such as the National Rifle Association and Florida Carry haven’t gotten their big-ticket items to Gov. Rick Scott’s desk, Second Amendment backers hope their targets are in sight for the annual legislative session that starts March 7.
“Why don’t we just say in certain situations, let’s try it. Let’s just try something different for a while, let law-abiding citizens exercise their Second Amendment right,” House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, said. “I support it all. Until someone can show me one stinking fact, statistic that says this is worse than the current situation, I absolutely am supportive of it.”
Not everyone wants to “try it,” and they intend to be loud and vocal, even if they know they remain politically outgunned at the GOP-dominated Capitol.
Florida was rocked in June by the shooting deaths of 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, followed by the fatal shooting of five people in January at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport,
Michelle Gajda, the Florida chapter leader for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, believes most Floridians, based on polling and reactions after the Orlando and Fort Lauderdale shootings, want some reasonable controls on the proliferation of guns.
“We don’t expect to win every battle, but we will be at every battle, with our evidence and with our data,” Gajda said. “We believe eventually we will prevail and common-sense gun reforms will begin to pass in Florida.”
Gajda expects to oppose each pro-gun measure as it comes up in committee.
“We haven’t ranked them in any particular order. It’s kind of a cacophony of horrors, and so were focused on fighting them all,” she added.
One of the first bills that the Senate could take up when the session begins would shift the burden of proof from defendants to prosecutors during pre-trial hearings in “stand your ground” self-defense cases (SB 128). The bill has made it through Senate committees.
Supporters say the measure strengthens the state’s self-defense laws, but critics contend the measure will short-circuit cases before all the facts are revealed. The potential change died last year in the House, but this year’s version of the proposal (HB 245) needs to only make it through one more committee before it can go to the full House.
Overall 39 bills, resolutions and resolution-like memorials have been filed so far that include language relating in some aspect to firearms and the Second Amendment.
Republicans account for 26 of the bills, including 10 by Sen. Greg Steube, a Sarasota Republican who chairs the Judiciary Committee, which is expected to be the first committee stop for many of the firearm proposals.
Senate President Joe Negron’s appointment of Steube as chairman of the committee had added significance for many people involved in gun debates. Former Judiciary Chairman Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, was an impediment the past two years to some major pro-gun measures. Diaz de la Portilla was defeated in his re-election campaign last year.
Some of the proposals filed for the 2017 session are linked, for example, to issues such as a proposed constitutional amendment (SJR 910 and HJR 291) that would ask voters to exempt law-enforcement officers from a three-day waiting period for purchasing handguns.
The biggest legislative fights, however, likely will center on bills related to where people can carry guns.
Steube has said one of his top priorities is a bill (HB 6005) that would allow people with concealed-weapons licenses to carry firearms on college and university campuses. University-system leaders have vehemently opposed such proposals in the past.
Also, Steube has said a priority is a proposal (SB 618 and HB 6001) that would allow people to carry guns in airport terminals.
“Given what’s happened at Fort Lauderdale airport, that’s important to me,” Steube said.
Negron, while noting he has strongly supported the bill about changing the burden of proof in “stand your ground” cases, said he’s leaving other bills up to committee chairs to advance.
Democrats have also filed a number of measures seeking to counter the pro-gun bills. The proposals include such ideas as banning the sale of large-capacity ammunition magazines and expanding criminal-history checks on firearm buyers. However, the Democratic proposals aren’t expected to move forward in the Republican-controlled Legislature.
It remains unclear how many pro-gun bills can gain enough support to pass during the session. But Florida Carry attorney Eric Friday pointed to increased support from leadership in both chambers, particularly on the Senate side, for people’s right to self-defense.
“Senate President Joe Negron has always been very supportive of people’s fundamental constitutional rights,” Friday said. “The speech he gave in the Senate last year on the `burden of proof’ bill showed he had strong belief in what we’re trying to do here. … All of these issues are important. They all deal with the fundamental right that people have to protect their lives and their families.”
–Jim Turner, News Service of Florida
I guess at over 70 I will have to buy a gun myself…for the first time in my life, to protect myself from all the mental ill and bullies with guns!
I’m a NRA member and have been for a very long time but this is just stupid…… I was raised with guns, learned how to handle them properly, and be responsible with them, and if all the people who have conceal and carry had similar backgrounds I would not worry (as much). But when I see how easy and quick CC are handed out it makes no sense. If the left wants to keep fighting this issue they would get further if they tried to implement more stringent training before a CC is handed out.
Guns in airports, colleges and government meetings… sure lets try it… What could go wrong.
Richard Smith says
Well this ought to be interesting. Let the party begin!
This is insane. Just who in the hell is clamoring to carry a gun on campus, through an airport terminal or into city hall? Because of this madness, if enacted, I’ve got to go around frightened because anybody can be armed and angry. And if Trump is successful in allowing people with mental illnesses to carry guns, I’m thoroughly scared for me and my family.
This insanity has to stop. Call or write your legislative representatives and complain loudly and often.
What a great book this will make – angry and upset customers and students bring guns with them, shoot everyone on site. How about you just take it out on the NRA?
Democrats want to ban the sale of large-capacity ammunition. As if a HUNTER needed 100 rounds of automatic ammo to kill a deer. Really? Or maybe that ‘hunter’ wants to kill as many people as he possibly can. That’s fine with republicans, who just passed laws allowing the mentally ill to carry guns too. At least in the Wild, Wild West they had severe restrictions on who could own guns. Criminals and the mentally ill weren’t allowed. Had to protect against the indians and the bad guys too.
Maybe a mandated mental evaluation before being given a CC. Training is already required unless you’re prior military or law enforcement. I went through the training even though I didn’t have to ( prior military) but I wanted to refresh my skills.
One thing is for sure, the criminals have guns. Period. There’s no way to keep guns out of their hands. These criminals are more liable to think twice if they think that they may get shot themselves while committing a crime. I have my gun and carry everywhere I go. i’d rather explain to 12, then be carried by 6. Why is this concept so hard to understand?
The Ghost of America says
This is great news, and I’m sure it’ll help our legislators feel much safer when dealing with angry constituents during town hall meetings.
Richard Smith says
@Sandra – Totally agree. It won’t change how criminals think though. They will still commit the crimes however with more LAW abiding people carrying it may reduce the number of innocent people injured or killed. You also ask, “why is this concept so hard to understand?” I can only surmise that “ignorance is bliss” hoping that the problem will disappear.
Many states have open carry and I have not heard of any problems. Nothing stops me from carrying into the airport to pick up a family member. Maybe if someone like me was in Ft. Lauderdale that nut could have been taken out and saved a couple lives.
“This is insane…”
Yes. It is.
“…… What could go wrong.”
Understanding this is dark humor, it still deserves an answer. Ask LEOs how they like the idea of people – who don’t have to meet anything resembling the requirements they do – making the split second decision to use a firearm. Ask LEOs how they know who is a CC hero and who is a criminal when someone turns towards them with a gun in their hand.
Ask the CC hero how he knows an undercover or plain clothes LEO is that.
The CC hero’s decision won’t be made while looking at a silhouette or bullseye target. And the rest of us will be the backstop when they miss. Visit a range and watch for a while. Sweet dreams.
Slides back and cylinders open – make the firing line safe! There are plenty of us familiar with the smell of Hoppe’s who are goddamned sick and tired of the NRA electing Republican scumbags and freaks like Trump.
There is a cure. Vote.
And maybe, Veteran, just maybe if our gun laws were allowed to be reasonably cautious and selective, the shooter would not have access to a military-type weapon. The blood of those 49 innocent people is all over the NRA. The NRA needs to be labeled a domestic terrorist organization. They’ve killed far, far more Americans than ISIS, AL Queda and their sympathizers, and all other terrorist groups combined.
Richard Smith says
Just when I thought I had seen it all, we now have to blame the NRA for the killing of 49 innocent people. It certainly wasn’t the fault of some mentally disturbed radical Islamic person shouting his allegiance to Allah!
I always enjoy how gun haters think. Always entertaining……..
No, Richard Smith, I do not blame the NRA for those 49 deaths, I blame the NRA for 10’s of thousands of deaths in America. I blame the NRA for the seven children killed by guns each day in America. I blame the NRA for the highest death rate by guns in the industrialized world. I blame the NRA for the maiming of countless Americans who are shot and wounded and crippled for life either mentally or physically. The NRA is awash in America’s blood.
Carol Rizz says
Concealed carry in bars. Guns and alcohol. What could possibly go wrong? Sure, let’s try it.
For all you gun haters or afraid of guns. Check this video out. How many lives were saved!