Gov. Scott Signs Pair Of Gun-Related Bills Into Law

Feb 25, 2016

Governor Rick Scott signed a number of bills into law Wednesday. Among them are a pair of gun-related bills that have the backing of law enforcement and gun rights groups.

A number of stakeholders gathered around Governor Rick Scott and applauded him Wednesday, after he signed a bill into law making it a misdemeanor for anyone to discharge a firearm in residential areas.

“This was sponsored in the Senate by Senator [Garrett] Richter, in the House, by Representative [Neil] Combee and Representative [Darryl] Rouson. I want to thank them for their hard work,” said Scott, at the time.

The new law by Rep. Neil Combee (R-Polk City) immediately took effect Wednesday.

“This bill is a product of discussions between the Florida Police Chiefs Association and the National Rifle Association,” he said. “The discussion was prompted by the growth of shooting ranges being erected, sometimes in haphazard fashion and fired up in residential neighborhoods across the state.”

Some exceptions to the bill include accidental discharges and a person lawfully defending themselves or their property.

For Rep. Darryl Rouson  (D-St. Petersburg), this was personal. He’d tried and failed to get a similar bill last session.

“Governor, thank you so much for signing it into law,” said Rouson. “And, I also want to thank Representative Neil Combee. When he called me this summer, and we talked about it, and we figured out that we could work together to make sure this happens, and I’m very grateful for that opportunity to have done that. And, shout out to Lakewood Estates Homeowners Association, where the issue arose a few blocks from my house and I’m glad that we were able to do something about it.”

And, Sen. Garrett Richter (R-Naples), the bill’s Senator sponsor, had nice things to say as well.

“Want to thank my counterparts in the House,” he said. “It’s always rewarding when you get to be associated with legislation that makes sense, and this is a good commonsensical piece of legislation for the state of Florida.”

Florida Police Chiefs Association President Brett Railey says the new law is a priority for law enforcement.

“We truly appreciate the support that we got from our partners in addressing this critical issue in keeping our communities safe and still preserving Second Amendment rights, and Governor, we really appreciate you seeing the importance of this and signing this for us,” he said.

The NRA’s Marion Hammer didn’t attend the bill signing, but in the past, had called it a good bill.

“This was simple language to give law enforcement some clarity that they asked for to give them enforceability to protect neighborhoods and NRA is happy to join with the Florida Police Chiefs in supporting Senator Richter’s bill,” she said, a few months ago.

Meanwhile, the Governor signed another NRA-backed bill that makes changes to Florida’s 10-20-Life law—also by Combee. It removes aggravated assault from the list of crimes that carry mandatory minimum sentences.

“What I’ve tried to do as Governor is listen to Police Chiefs, listen to Sheriffs, listen to State’s Attorneys, and this was legislation that was supported by our law enforcement community,” said Scott. “It made sense, and that’s why I signed it.”

Rep. Combee says he’s heard of a few cases where people are serving 20 years in prison for threatening to use force with a gun, for example, in self-defense.

“In aggravated assault, no one’s physically harmed,” he said. “There’s no physical contact. That’s battery. So, we’ve got people sitting in prison, who’ve never touched anybody, been no physical harm, they’ve not stolen, they’ve not swindled anyone, but, yet under this [10-20-Life] law, they have been sentenced to 20 years in prison. This will fix that, and everybody seems to agree that this is the fix.”

The new law takes effect July 1st.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.