Published on March 29th, 2017 | by Chris Settineri0
Guns in Florida: Changes Coming to Florida Gun Laws
Under current law, it is illegal to carry a firearm in places like airports, school zones and college campuses.
In Tallahassee three new bills have been proposed. The first strengthens the “Stand Your Ground” law by shifting the burden of proof from the defendant to the prosecutor during court hearings.
The second would “allow the decision of whether or not to allow concealed carry to be made by the private property owner, or the owner of the church, business, school etc,” Rep. Neil Combee R-Polk City said.
The third would lower penalties for concealed weapons license holders who accidentally display their firearm in public.
Many who support the third bill call it a compromise to the proposed measure to allow open carry in the state.
Gun control activists and Democrats who oppose the bills think that since mass shootings like Pulse and Ft. Lauderdale moderate Republicans are under pressure to oppose bills that ease gun laws.
Many republicans and gun rights activists think that the rise in mass shootings in Florida are evidence that the state needs fewer gun-free zones. Senator Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, believes that bans on the carry of guns in public places create “soft targets” for shooters, making the public more vulnerable to attack.
Steube brought the three bills to the floor for the current legislative session. He originally proposed one bill but was forced to split it into three to gain support.
The bills do seem to be gaining support from both the public, and voting members of the legislature.
“Banning the carry of firearms in many public places opens the door for those who would want to do harm. Criminals don’t follow laws, end of story,” Thomas Seffner, president of LPRC, said.
The bills do face opposition as well especially from moderate republicans.
Flores is one of the key voters on the bills because she is a top lieutenant to Joe Negron, Florida Senate President.
In Polk County changes to gun laws were made earlier this year that allowed certain faculty members at Southeastern University to carry on campus. This initiative was spearheaded by Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.
Judd created a “special deputy” program that would give participating faculty the authority to act against an active assailant on campus with deadly force. After passing background checks, drug testing, and psychological evaluations participants will be required to complete over 100 hours of training in firearm proficiency.
“The Sentinel Program further enhances the safety and security of our campus,” Kent Ingle president of SEU said.
According to a United States Department of Justice study, between the years of 2000 and 2011 there were 160 “active shooter” incidents in the U.S. “Active shooter” is defined as: “An individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area with a firearm.”
Florida Southern students see the issue of gun violence and control from both sides.
“I think that something needs to change, and I am not convinced that more guns mean less violence. I see the need for firearms but think that they have no place on a school campus,” Abby Eskridge a junior at FSC said.
Other students see it in a different light.
“Having people armed on campus means that a threat or potential threat can be stopped sooner,” Luis Rivera said. “ I would rather have a gun in my hand than a cop on the phone. The police just take too long to respond immediately, it’s better to be able to at least control a situation while the police arrive than be completely helpless.”