Attempt to Expand FL Gun Laws Stalls
The Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history before Las Vegas. The shooter killed forty-nine people and injured fifty-eight more in what has been identified as both a terrorist attack and a hate crime. Since the attack, and since five people were shot and killed in the Fort Lauderdale airport months later, several conservative lawmakers in Florida are looking to expand gun rights.
Republican lawmakers have pushed several bills which would provide greater freedom to law-abiding gun owners. They believe that many tragic attacks could be avoided if more people were armed. These lawmakers wish to allow gun owners to take their guns virtually anywhere they are currently prohibited, including private schools, airports, on the campuses of public universities, courthouses, and more. By doing so, they reason these law-abiding gun owners will be in a better position to protect themselves in the event of a mass shooting. The bills they have proposed, however, have failed to win support.
Gun Rights Expansion Bills Appear Dead
The push to expand gun rights is being blocked in the Florida Senate. Recently, a Senate panel voted down three separate bills, including a measure that would have reduced criminal penalties for concealed weapon permit holders who expose their weapons in public. It would have reduced the offense from a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine to a civil violation with a $25 penalty.
Another bill would have allowed guns inside courthouses. Senator Greg Steube (R-Sarasota) staunchly supports carrying guns in public places and reducing the number of gun-free zones in Florida, which he believes are prime targets for mass shooters. The third bill would have allowed those with a concealed weapons permit to carry guns in private schools so long as those schools were on church property.
Republicans introduced several bills, among them one which would shift the burden of proof in Stand Your Ground cases to prosecutors. Many more bills were introduced concerning the expansion of gun laws to allow law-abiding citizens to carry weapons in:
- Government meetings
- Public universities
- Career centers
One of the bills even proposed allowing holders of concealed carry permits to sue business owners who ban guns on their property if the gun owner gets hurt. Two Republicans, Senator Anitere Flores of Miami and Senator Rene Garcia of Hialeah, sided with Democrats in opposing the bills.
Second Amendment gun rights is a sensitive subject that strongly divides the nation today. In District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), the Supreme Court held that Second Amendment protections expand to individuals for self-defense.
Florida’s gun laws are constantly in flux. If you face charges for accidentally exposing a lawfully-carried handgun in Orlando, you deserve keen representation. Attorney William Umansky of The Umansky Law Firm stays up-to-date on all weapons legislation throughout Florida and has practiced criminal defense for over 25 years in the greater Orlando area. Schedule a free consultation by calling our office or reach out to our online chat 24/7 reach out to our online chat 24/7.