A controversial effort to allow people with concealed-weapons licenses to bring guns to religious institutions that share property with schools advanced through the House Education Committee Thursday. The measure (HB 1437) would allow religious institutions to authorize people with concealed-weapons licenses to carry guns at any location “owned, rented, leased, or lawfully used” by the institution.
Opponents have argued the measure would also allow people licensed to carry concealed weapons to bring the guns to public schools that make space available to a religious group, even when the religious group isn’t meeting. Prior to the committee’s 15-1 vote in favor of the measure, Rep. Jayer Williamson, R- Pace, said religious institutions will decide what is best for them. “If they want to come up with a security team, they can do that,” said Williamson, the bill’s sponsor.
“If they want to allow any concealed-weapons permit holder, they set the parameters.” While proponents have pushed the effort for several years, the measure has drawn extra attention in the wake of several church and synagogue shootings across the nation and a rise in anti-Semitism. Rep. Bruce Antone, D-Orlando, said that, while he had concerns about the legislation, its intent is good. “Some of my very good friends are pastors of churches that have $50,000 in cash in the collection plate on Sundays, so I know that is a risk,” Antone said. “And then I don’t want to be a hypocrite, because sometimes and oftentimes I accidently carry my gun to church.”
But Beth Dumond, a Tallahassee-based volunteer with Moms Demand Action, argued the presence of guns on campus increases the risk of school shooting violence. “Our concern is that this doesn’t differentiate between when religious institutions are allowing concealed-carry permit holders to have guns on church properties that also house schools,” Dumond said.
“Our concern is that this bill does not indicate that it is OK for churches to have security plans in place during church services and church activities while not indicating that it is still not OK to have those things happening while school-related activities are taking place.” State law generally allows people to carry concealed weapons at religious institutions, but it bars being armed on school properties. Florida law, however, does allow law enforcement, school resource officers and individuals trained as school “guardians” to carry guns on school campuses. The House proposal lacks a Senate companion bill.
–News Service of Florida
Art Schwartz says
Reads like Alice In Wonderland. We are insane.
Rick G says
Doesn’t anyone see the irony here??? Guns in churches..?
I legally carry concealed now when we attend church. No school in that church. I carry to protect, and would give my life protecting my wife and others.
Gus Rumpf says
I and my family feel the same.
We will not be helpless victims.
Mike Cocchiola says
It is very clear that in the Age of Trump, the goal of his GOT (Grand Ol’ Trump) Party is to have every American armed and dangerous. You would think that they’d know they’re arming some of the people they fear… immigrants, Muslims and liberals.
If you believe In GOD you should never need a gun.
Gus Rumpf says
The 2nd Amendment is very clear in stating that our right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
And the notion that we are protected from crime by law enforcement is what is insane.
The criminals don’t even need a gun to murder or gravely injure us, and they well know that unarmed we are sitting ducks for them. They get means of transportation and weapons easily and love to pray on those who they KNOW are NOT ARMED. They can show up wherever you are whenever they please. To choose to be unarmed is to choose to be a helpless victim. I have first hand victim experience myself, and believe me, you do not want to be the next victim.
THERE ARE NO GUN FREE ZONES to criminals, so why would anyone want to keep law abiding Americans from defending themselves.