Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Off To A Busy Start for Florida Gun Legislation

Courtesy of our friends at Florida Carry, we learn that the first bills of the new legislative session have already been filed.  The one that is possibly the most important bill, Senate Bill 140, is coming to committee on January 10th, next Tuesday.  SB 140 is being talked about as the Open Carry law, but it also includes Campus Carry, and enlarges areas where carry is permitted. The Panty Wetters are predictably getting all concerned about it. 
The first, and arguably the most important pro Second Amendment rights bill of the 2017 legislative session is about to be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 10th at 2pm. 

Florida Carry urges you to contact committee members to tell them you want their support for this crucial bill.

Senator Steube's bill regains some of the ground lost since shall-issue became lawful in 1987.

Open Carry - The legislature took this away in 1987, after the fear-mongering of Janet Reno and a complicit media whined loud enough. In a special session called for budgetary issues, without debate or public discussion, the legislature replaced the Right to bear arms with a license to conceal handguns and other non-firearm defensive weapons.  The right to choose the appropriate method of carry was taken from you. This has resulted in the arrest of scores of law-abiding licensees, whose only crime was their handgun became visible. Law enforcement presumes any visible firearm is unlawful, and regardless of those exceptions in FS 790.25(3), can and has arrested licensees, sometimes so forcefully that permanent injury has been sustained by the carrier. An exception for "brief exposure" added in 2011 has been ineffective at stopping the harassment, arrest, and prosecution of gun owners. Even hiking in the predator-filled Everglades with a visible firearm has been used as grounds for arrest and prosecution. Open carry is lawful in 45 states, 30 of which respect the Right to Bear Arms by not requiring a license. NONE of the suggested carnage of the anti-Second Amendment lobby has occurred on those states.  [Bold added - SiG]
Campus Carry - The bill removes the prohibition against licensee carry at schools, including K-12, Career Center, and College education facilities. (a "Career Center" is commonly know as a Technical College or Trade School) Even mere seconds awaiting armed response potentially means lives lost. In the overwhelming number of cases, school attackers have immediately surrendered or committed suicide upon the arrival of armed opposition. To date, no school shooting attack has been committed by a licensed student or parent in any state.
The bill includes two other extensions.  First, it enlarges the areas where concealed carry is lawful in airports.  I'm familiar with Orlando International Airport, a place where Florida Carry tells us 633 violent crimes were committed last year, and the way the airport is laid out, one can drive up to the baggage pickup area to wait for someone they're meeting, and be in compliance, but if they were to get out of their temporarily parked car and go a few feet toward the baggage area, they're in violation of the airport's passenger terminal.  44 states allow carry in the passenger terminal.  The passenger terminal area does not include anywhere past the TSA screening area, or the TSA area itself.

The second extension is to include meetings of state and local government.  Even at the state capitol, licensees are allowed to carry in the halls and offices of the Legislature, but are forbidden from walking through a door into a Legislative meeting. Once again, law enforcement officers, who are statistically six times more likely to commit a crime than a Florida CWFL holder, are welcome.

While Florida is more red than blue, there are sections that are as deeply blue as New York City, New Jersey or San Francisco.  The anti-gun forces in Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Tampa, Orlando or elsewhere are not going to let a session go by without trying to restrict our rights farther.  Florida Carry refers to Senate Bill 142 on Storage of Firearms, introduced by a senator from deepest blue Broward County (which had the highest Hillary vote percentage in the state).  The bill has apparently had language stricken from it already (pdf warning) and appears to simply echo existing law.  I don't expect it will get out of committee.  Next, Sen. Oscar Braynon II of Miami Gardens (where I grew up), never one to see patterns of mass shootings, wants to expand gun free zones.  Sen. Braynon's SB 170 bill would add performing arts centers and "legitimate theaters" to the prohibited places list.  Because we know nothing bad ever happens in a theater.   

It's early in the session, yet, so expect more to be introduced.  If you're in Florida and want to keep up with what's going on, you can subscribe to the newsletters from Florida Carry, or better yet, join for  $25/year.  They're good folks doing a big job. 

If you're inclined to pester write your legislators, they include the complete list of committee members along with a sample, polite letter to email them.

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