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Bill Permitting Concealed Carry In Religious Schools Passes House Judiciary Committee

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Josh Applegate
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Florida law lets people with concealed carry permits carry guns at religious institutions but not in schools. The House Judiciary Committee voted  12-5 Wednesday to allow concealed carry at religious institutions attached to or that share properties with schools--like churches and synagogues. 

Churchgoers and other congregants could carry concealed weapons to churches attached to school campuses under the Safety of Religious Institutions bill. However, if a church is renting a space, it would be up to the property owner to decide whether to allow weapons.

“Right now, if your church is located on the same [site] as a pre-school, and that pre-school meets Monday through Friday, you would not be allowed to carry on Sunday, and this will change that,” Rep. Jayer Williamson (R- Pace), explained. 

Supporters have been trying to get the proposal through the legislature for years. 

Rep. Joe Geller (D-Dania Beach) opposed the bill, saying the presence of guns while school is in session poses a risk.

“Guns and schools don’t mix. I recognize the right of a religious congregation to control their own affairs, but when there’s a school attached it becomes a different circumstance,” Geller said.

Rep. Ramon Alexander (D-Tallahassee) was the only one to break from his party in favor of the bill. Alexander says churches are targets of mass shootings and need self-protection.

“You’re literally a sitting target,” Alexander said. “Just because there’s a hallway and a door where there may be a small school, I can’t justify that in my mind why that church still can’t protect themselves.”

There is no Senate companion to the bil.