By Chris Wagoner:
Florida is in for some very lively times in the State Legislature this year! With the changing of the political climate in the US since the presidential election, I am not sure if the Republican legislators feel emboldened and want to feel out the opposition, or if they really think now is the time; for whatever the reason, they are pushing forward with numerous pro-gun rights bills. At the same time, the desperate Democrats appear to be throwing all common sense to the wind, and have filed a couple of “gun control” bills of their own. One of them is being called a “assault weapon and magazine capacity” ban, and it basically tries to outlaw every modern sporting rifle that has anything more up to date on it than wood.
Senator Steube (R) is the author of many of these pro-gun bills, and has been a staunch supporter of the rights of Floridians to defend themselves. Earlier this year, he filed a bill (SB 140) that was basically an all-or-nothing attempt to make all kinds of changes to Florida’s laws. It would have removed many restrictions currently on the books and made open carry legal. But after having second thoughts on how he had presented it, he instead filed separate bills for each of the changes. Many gun rights advocates believe this to be a smart move, and one that may allow for more of the changes to make it through this year.
In retaliation, Senator Stewart (D) filed a bill titled “An Act Relating to Gun Safety,” and proceeded to try to justify making every firearm known to mankind illegal. She added a high capacity magazine ban in for good measure. Any magazine with more than seven rounds would be illegal. Yep, that’s right, seven! My handguns hold more than that! Of course, there is no basis to show that any of the items listed in the bill would do anything to reduce deaths by firearms or any other means. It is simply a knee-jerk reaction by a group of people who have little to no knowledge of firearms.
What Senator Stewart did not consider is that her “gun safety” bill has nothing to do with gun safety at all. It is simply a poor attempt to outlaw firearms that law-abiding citizens carry and use daily. In fact, if she had pushed this bill through last year, a Lee County deputy would be dead now. The firearm used by a lawfully carrying citizen would have been illegal, and he would not have been able save that deputy’s life.
Democratic legislators in Florida may want to consider that they live in the state with the most concealed carry licenses in the country. With over 1.7 MILLION concealed weapons license holders in the state, they may wish to think about what it would mean to alienate such a massive bloc of voters.
With all of the national attention currently directed at the White House and what President Trump has said and done, the individual states are having a time of it trying to get people to listen to what is going in their own backyards. We need to pay attention to what is going on in our state capitals, which bills are being presented, and by whom. Many are beginning to realize that the “silent majority” is not so silent anymore. It very well be coming out of its shell to become the “vocal and voting majority” it could have been all along.
I have put together a list of the bills that are related to firearms, the 2nd Amendment, and related topics, with links to them so you can read the full bill terminology if you want. I have included the official summary of each here, and YES, the Open Carry Bill is one of them:
SB 646 – Weapons and Firearms – Providing that a person licensed to carry a concealed weapon or firearm who is lawfully carrying a firearm does not violate certain provisions if the firearm is temporarily and openly displayed; (Layman’s terms – to accidentally display your firearm while reaching for an item on the shelf at the grocery store is not illegal, and gives Florida Cabinet members a right to carry without a license.)
SB 644 – Openly Carry a Handgun – Authorizing a concealed weapons or firearms licensee to openly carry a handgun, etc. (Layman’s terms – you can carry openly or concealed, your choice.)
SB 640 – Concealed Weapons and Firearms – Authorizing a concealed weapons or concealed firearms licensee to carry a concealed weapon or firearm into any career center, etc. (Layman’s terms – removes career centers from the prohibited places you cannot carry.)
SB 626 – Concealed Weapons or Firearms – Authorizing a concealed weapons or concealed firearms licensee to carry a concealed weapon or firearm into any meeting of the governing body of a county, public school district, municipality, or special district, etc. (Layman’s terms – CWL holders can carry into public governmental meetings)
SB 622 – Concealed Weapons and Firearms – Prohibiting a concealed weapons or concealed firearms licensee from carrying a concealed weapon or firearm into any athletic event for a K-12 school, college, or university which is not related to firearms; deleting an exception authorizing a student, employee, or faculty licensee to carry specified nonlethal weapons, etc. Allows for Campus Carry except at Sporting Events. (Layman’s terms – allows CWL holders to carry on college campuses except sporting events.)
SB 620 – Concealed Weapons or Firearms – Authorizing a concealed weapons or concealed firearms licensee to carry a concealed weapon or firearm into any meeting or committee meeting of the Legislature, etc.
SB 618 – Concealed Weapons and Firearms – Authorizing a concealed weapons or concealed firearms licensee to carry a concealed weapon or firearm into any area of an airport excluding the sterile area, etc.
SB 616 – Concealed Weapons or Firearms – Authorizing a concealed weapons or concealed firearms licensee to temporarily surrender a weapon or firearm if the licensee approaches courthouse security or management personnel upon arrival and follows their instructions, etc.
SB 610 – Firearms – Requiring a business, organization, or entity that prohibits a concealed weapon or firearm licensee from carrying a weapon or firearm onto its property to assume certain responsibility for the safety and defense of such licensee; providing a cause of action for a concealed weapon or firearm licensee who incurs injury, death, damage, or loss as the result of certain acts or attacks occurring on the property of such business, organization, or entity or on other specified properties, etc.
SB 260 – Threats to Kill or Do Bodily Injury – Prohibiting a person from making a threat to kill or do bodily injury in a writing or other record and transmitting that threat in any manner; deleting requirements that a threat be sent to a specific recipient to be prohibited, etc.
SB 254 – Gun Safety – Prohibiting the sale or transfer of an assault weapon or large capacity ammunition magazine; prohibiting possession of an assault weapon or large-capacity magazine; requiring certificates of possession for assault weapons or large capacity ammunition magazines lawfully possessed before a specified date; providing enhanced criminal penalties for certain offenses when committed with an assault weapon or large capacity magazine, etc.
SB 170 – Prohibited Places for Weapons and Firearms – Revising the locations where a licensee is prohibited from openly carrying a handgun or carrying a concealed weapon or firearm, etc.
SB 128 – Self-Defense Immunity – Providing that the state has the burden of proving that a defendant is not immune from prosecution under certain circumstances, etc.
SB 88 – Threatening Violence Using a Firearm – Prohibiting a person from threatening to use a firearm in a violent manner against another person, etc.
HB 167 – Assualt Weapons and High Capacity Magazines – Prohibits sale or transfers of assault weapon or large capacity ammunition magazine; provides exceptions; prohibits possession of assault weapon or large-capacity magazine; provides exceptions; requires certificates of possession for assault weapons or large capacity ammunition magazines lawfully possessed before specified date…
HB 235 – Prohibited Places for Weapons and Firearms – Revises locations where licensees are prohibited from openly carrying handgun or carrying concealed weapon or firearm.
HB 575 – Threats to Kill or Do Bodily Harm – Prohibits person from making threat to kill or do bodily injury in writing or other record & transmitting that threat in any manner; removes requirements that threat be sent to specific recipient to be prohibited; provides penalty.
HB 6001 – Concealed Weapons and Firearms – Revises areas of an airport where person is prohibited from openly carrying handgun or from carrying concealed weapon or firearm.
HB 6005 – Licenses to Carry Weapons or Firearms – Removes provision prohibiting concealed carry licensees from openly carrying handgun or carrying concealed weapon or firearm into college or university facility.
Please visit The Florida Senate on the web to set up emailed updates and to create a tracking account to add the above listed Bills.
Chris Wagoner is a Senior OpsLens Contributor and U.S. Army Veteran. He has been in law enforcement the last 35+ years. He specializes in LE Firearms Instruction, and is in charge of a large Police Academy in North Florida. In his spare time Chris is a freelance Military Reporter and owner/founder of the Largest Military Videos Channel on YouTube “3rdID8487”.
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