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Senate Committee Shoots Down Church Carry, Open Carry Bills

December 5, 2017 - 5:30pm

A series of bills designed to expand gun owners’ rights in Florida are headed towards the legislative boneyard after the Senate Judiciary Committee sent them packing Tuesday, shooting them down with a bipartisan vote.

The Senate Judiciary Committee considered three proposals in Tallahassee Tuesday afternoon to expand either the presence of guns or the rights of gun owners in the Sunshine State.

One of the bills, SB 274, sponsored by Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, would have allowed concealed carry permit holders to bring their firearms to church for protection.

Stargel’s bill would have also restored the private property rights of churches to allow them to have armed security on church property. Private schools would also be included in the list of institutions.

Current Florida law bans churches from having armed security, but recent history suggests churches may not be as safe as many once believed. Last month, a gunman opened fire on the congregation at a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing over 20 people during a morning worship service. 

Around a dozen mothers from the anti-gun group Moms Demand Action and representatives from the League of Women Voters attended Tuesday’s meeting to oppose the bills.

“Guns carried by civilians have no place in our children’s schools,” said Kate Kyle, a volunteer with Moms Demand Action.

Gun rights supporters said they didn’t see the bill quite the same way. 

“We don’t view this bill as a gun bill,” said National Rifle Association lobbyist and former president Marion Hammer. “This is a private property right and it restores private property rights to churches, synagogues and other religious institutions and private schools. The keyword is private.”

One of the other bills, sponsored by Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, would have allowed gun owners to bring and check their firearms to courthouses in Florida. 

Courthouses would still be a prohibited place for carrying a firearm, but licensees would present their firearms to courthouse security for temporary storage. After CCW permit holders are finished at the courthouse, their firearms would be returned to them. 

Steube’s second bill on Tuesday’s legislative agenda would have allowed concealed carry permit holders to openly carry their guns statewide.

Republican lawmakers have been pushing courthouse carry and open carry for years, but haven’t made much progress passing either measure on account of Miami-Dade Republicans, who for years have blocked the bills from going anywhere.

In 2016, former Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla from Miami was responsible for killing off open carry legislation in the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

In 2017, Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, was the one to take a stand against gun bills, putting the kabosh on a series of gun bills which would have included airport carry, campus carry and open carry.



Reach reporter Allison Nielsen by email at or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen


If you have a concealed carry permit and the church allows the person(s) to carry their firearms the state has no business telling churches or the permit holder otherwise. Next time there is a incident in a church which could have been prevented by someone at the church, the state should be liable and held accountable.


"Saving Your Neighborhood Children Takes Five Minutes" Dear school board member, (Dear state legislator,) I was lied to. We were promised that students would be safer once we made it illegal for honest adults to carry guns on, or near, a school campus. Well that promise sure didn’t work. The US Department of Justice reports that almost all the active shooter incidents took place in “gun-free” zones. A quarter of those incidents took place in our schools. That is unacceptable. It is a nice letter, but it is meaningless without you. You can make it powerful. It takes one letter and a week, but you can change lives. Here is what you do with five minutes a day. I offer you the words, but your actions make it politically powerful. Go save lives. slowfacts . wordpress . com

Fake News...ALLISON...get your FACTS RIGHT Before you try to BS the public.(WE THE PUBLIC ARE WATCHING ALL MEDIA PRINTS)...There NO statue on Books says Churches CANT have Gun Possession on Churches ..there can Be Permit Gun Carry Security Guards or off Duty Law Enforcement .....This Bill allowed Permit Carry Citizens to carry in Church.....which was Big Mistake in Keeping So-Called Safe Zone.....Now Lunatics' be Invading Florida Churches ...just like in Texas & SC.....after a big massacre here then I guess the Political fools in Fl.Capital will change ...But that only after Unless Lives Lost..... 2018 is around the Corner VOTE for the Person YOU think Will Do what YOU believe is Right For Citizens of FLORIDA......Not Political PocketBook Gain....or Reducing Your Rights given by the Constitution..

"Current Florida law bans churches from having armed security" I believe you are wrong here. NOTHING in Fla law prohibits a church from having armed security, especially volunteers with a CWL. There "may" be some limitations on a church being an employer of armed security personnel but from what I read in those statutes it has more to do with licensing than prohibition. The Ledger ought to get it's facts right before blathering nonsense. And I would suggest using a more credible source than "Moms Demand"; that's the equivalent of quoting the KKK on civil rights .

Does the state of Florida also believe it can determine which is the "approved Bible" for church use, and which style of worship is mandated for the churches?

It's high time the state stop infringing on the 2nd amendment! All state gun laws violate the 2nd, 10th, and 14th amendments.

We are on a "slippery slope to oblivion"; The "Founding Fathers" foresaw these "dangers" we now face "up close and personal in their day" (hence our Constitution and Bill of Rights"): They "lived it" from their "revolution days" under George Washington's Presidency, and their "Muslim suppression days" under Thomas Jefferson's Presidency. WE (today) live "sheltered" lives almost wholly unaware of the evils and dangers surrounding us, and slowly "closing in", aided by "political stupidity" allowing our enemies ("always, heretofore at the gate") to "slip in through that gate" and "plot & plan" to begin overwhelming and overthrowing us ! WHAT will save us from our "next" revolution, which will, without doubt be of the "French type" ? God help us all; because "this time", there's no place left on Earth for us to go...!

Gun Free Zones are killing zones.. Mindless gun-free zones are what mass shootings have in common. They are killing zones, free from good guys with guns. That’s why the Aurora movie theater killer chose the more distant theater where guns were not allowed and thus where he wouldn’t have to worry about his plan being foiled.

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