Our man in the Gunshine State brings us up-to-date on the firearms-related bills currently circulating in the Florida legislature.
STAND YOUR GROUND (SB 128/HB 245, from Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, and Reps. Bobby Payne, R-Palatka and Jason Fischer, R-Jacksonville): Would shift the burden of proof in a criminal case where a defendant claims immunity under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law by requiring the prosecutor, not the defendant, to prove at a pre-trial hearing why the defendant shouldn’t be granted immunity from prosecution. In the amended Senate version, if the self-defense claim is unsuccessful, evidence presented at the pre-trial hearing would be inadmissible at trial.
DECRIMINALIZES “TEMPORARY AND OPEN DISPLAY” (SB 646, from Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota): 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; authorizing each member of the Florida Cabinet to carry a concealed weapon or firearm if he or she is licensed to carry a concealed weapon or firearm and does not have full-time security provided by the Department of Law Enforcement, etc.
OPEN CARRY (SB 644, from Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota): Would allow for the open carrying of handguns by the state’s 1.7 million concealed weapons permit-holders and would allow those permit-holders to carry guns in elementary and secondary schools, public college and university campuses, airport passenger terminals, legislative meetings, meetings of municipal, county, school or special district boards, and career centers.
GUN BAN LIABILITY (SB 610, from Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota): Would make a private “business, organization, or entity” that bans concealed weapons liable for any injury or damage caused by a person or animal, if the incident “could reasonably have been prevented” had the permit-holder not been required to be disarmed.
GUNS IN COURTHOUSES (SB 616, from Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota): Would allow concealed weapons permit-holders to carry guns in to courthouses and temporarily surrender and store the gun at a security checkpoint.
GUNS IN AIRPORTS (SB 618/HB 6001, from Se. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota and Rep. Jake Raburn, R-Lithia): Would lift a current ban and allow concealed weapons permit-holders to carry guns in passenger terminals and non-“sterile” areas of airports, which are locations outside of security checkpoints.
GUNS IN LEGISLATIVE MEETINGS (SB 620, from Sen Greg Steube, R-Sarasota): Would lift a current ban and allow concealed weapons permit-holders to carry guns in meetings of the Legislature, which include formal sessions and committee hearings.
GUNS ON CAMPUS (SB 622 / HB 6005, from Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota and Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood): Would lift a current ban and allow concealed weapons permit-holders to carry guns on public college and university campuses. [Steube’s version is different in that it also clarifies guns would still be banned from any K-12, college or university athletic event “not related to firearms.”]
GUNS IN GOVERNMENT MEETINGS (SB 626, from Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota): Would lift a current ban and allow concealed weapons permit-holders to carry guns in meetings of any municipality, county, school district or special district.
GUNS IN CAREER CENTERS (SB 640, from Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota): Would lift a current ban and allow concealed weapons permit-holders to carry guns in career centers.
POLICE WAITING PERIOD EXEMPTION (HJR 291, from Reps. Don Hahnfeldt, R-The Villages, and Robert Asencio, D-Miami): Proposes a constitutional amendment to exempt law enforcement officers from the mandatory three-day waiting period for purchasing handguns. [Constitutional amendments must be approved by three-fifths of both the House and Senate — 72 members in the House and 24 in the Senate — in order to be placed on a ballot, and then 60-percent approval from voters is required for the measure to become law.]
THREATENING VIOLENCE (SB 88, from Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota): Would criminalize the act of threatening to use a firearm in a violent manner, under penalty of committing a second-degree felony.
GUN STORAGE (SB 142 , from Sen. Gary Farmer, D-Parkland): Would tighten language in an existing law that requires guns to be locked in a gun safe or have a trigger lock when around children age 16 or younger.
GUNS IN THEATERS BAN (SB 170, from Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens): Would prohibit concealed-weapons permit holders from carrying in performing arts centers or theaters.
ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN (SB 254/HB 167, from Sen. Linda Stewart and Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, both Orlando Democrats): Would ban in Florida many specific assault-style firearms and “parts that convert a firearm into an assault weapon,” such as large-capacity magazines. Would make it a third-degree felony, with some exceptions, to sell or possess an assault weapon or large-capacity magazine, among other restrictions.