Gun-Related Bill Passes First Florida Senate Committee

Mar 7, 2017

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A gun-related bill cleared its first committee Tuesday.

In the Past

In 2011, a friend of then-Senator John Thrasher lost his daughter. A student at Florida State University, she was accidentally shot at a frat house. Around that time, the legislature was also considering a bill to allow guns on college campuses.

“I have opposed this bill since it first surfaced when I was in the legislature in 2011,.  I opposed it, I killed it, I’ve worked against it since then, and you have my promise that I will work against it this year also.”

Speaking during the annual State of the University address, Thrasher—now FSU’s President—is vowing to derail similar legislation again.

“The Legislature is again considering a bill that would allow people to carry guns on college campuses. Law enforcement officials, including our own police department, other university presidents and members of the state university system are in agreement that having more guns on college campuses does not make them safer.”

But, Sen. Greg Steube (R-Sarasota) says his gun legislation doesn’t apply to Thrasher’s situation.

“Well, a lot of these parents of gun violence…my bill wouldn’t affect them,”. They weren’t attacked or assaulted by concealed weapons licensed permit holders. So, you know, the shooting that Thrasher got all spun up about on Florida State’s campus because he knew the father of the daughter that passed away, this bill wouldn’t have changed that. That wasn’t even on campus. So, right now, they can carry guns there. So, my legislation would have nothing to do with the facts and circumstances with those cases, but sadly, they use those types of cases to make it a political issue and it shouldn’t be.”

Today, in the Florida Legislature

Steube had initially filed a comprehensive bill that included provisions like guns on campus. But, he’s since changed tactics, and has now broken up that big bill into 10 smaller pieces.

And, Tuesday, two of them were supposed to be taken up by the Senate Judiciary committee—a panel that Steube chairs. The one that passed would allow a concealed weapons license holder to carry a firearm into a courthouse until they reach security. Then, they must follow the security’s instructions for storing or removing the gun.

The other which didn't get a hearing revises Florida’s current open carry ban. Among its provisions is allowing concealed weapons holders to briefly display a gun. Today’s law only applies to self-defense situations.

“If you look at the facts of 28 years of concealed carry in the state of Florida, licensed permit holders are 10 times less likely to commit a crime than certified law enforcement officers,” Steube added.

Still, as with many gun bills, there’s much opposition from groups like Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Its members have continually spoken against gun-related measures.

“We will not allow our legislators to continue to act in the interest of the gun lobby and to ignore what happens on the ground,” said Michelle Gajda, the Volunteer Chapter Leader with the group’s Florida Chapter. “When they stand on their principles in that hearing room, what they’re doing is ignoring the public safety of those they were elected to help protect.”

Meanwhile, two measures by Sen. Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala) also never got taken up—due to time constraints. They essentially allow law enforcement officers to purchase a gun without having to wait the currently mandatory three-day waiting period. Currently, only concealed carry permit holders are exempt from that standard.

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