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Previously Controversial Gun Bill Passes First Senate Panel, Gets Fla. Sheriffs' Approval

Despite strong campus opposition concealed carry is one step closer to Florida universities.
MGN Online

A controversial gun bill is turning out to be not so controversial anymore, after it got the approval of its main opponent—the Florida Sheriffs Association—Monday.

Last year, the NRA-backed measure allowing people to carry guns without a license during a state mandatory evacuation failed, after the Florida Sheriffs criticized the bill for being too loose. This year, bill sponsor  Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) is working to address that with a new change.

“This amendment provides a timeframe for the term, ‘in the act of evacuating,’” said Brandes. “The timeframe is set for 48 hours, after a mandatory evacuation is ordered. The 48 hours may be extended by order of the Governor. It also clarifies the term ‘in the act of evacuating,’ and that is the amendment.”

And, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says that change appeases the FSA.

“We had some concerns over the language that was not in there that would provide the necessary timeframes so that law enforcement and citizens would know what the rules are and can follow those rules,” said Gualtieri. “So, on behalf of the Florida Sheriffs Association, me personally as the Pinellas County Sheriff, with the language that’s in there now that limits it to 48 hours and the language of immediate and urgent is that we support this.”

The measure passed its first committee stop in the Senate Criminal Justice Committee Monday.

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