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Politics

House Committee Advances School Carry, Church Carry Bills

January 24, 2018 - 2:15pm

Floridians could start carrying concealed guns in public schools and in churches if two new bills make their way through the Florida Legislature this year.

On Wednesday, the Florida House Criminal Justice Committee passed HB 621, a proposal which would allow designated individuals to carry firearms on elementary, middle, secondary and postsecondary school campuses.

Under HB 621, School principals or school superintendents would select the designees, who would complete 40 hours of training and four hours of firearm proficiency training from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Teachers, employees and volunteers could all be considered for the position.

Designees would also be required to undergo active shooter training to prepare themselves in case of a life-threatening emergency on public school campuses. 

The weapon or firearm must be carried on the designee's person at all times while the designee is performing his or her official school duties.

Opponents of the measure argued gun violence in schools is usually the result of escalating conflicts in the presence of firearms and expressed concerns about putting guns in Florida schools.

“I know we can all agree that schools should be safe places for our kids to learn. Stories from around the country and an overwhelming body of research both show that putting guns in classrooms is dangerous – full stop,” said Gay Valimont, Volunteer Leader with the Florida Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. 

Melissa Franklin, a mother of two, came to Tallahassee to testify against the measure, expressing concerns about an influx of guns around the state.

“The facts show over and over again that more guns make us less safe,” Franklin said. 

Rep. Bob Rommel, R-Naples, who sponsored the measure, said the bill aimed to prevent violence by students and let them know they would be “met with resistance” if they carried guns on campus -- and asserted HB 621 would make students safer.

“We demand [the schools] to keep our children safe yet we don’t give them tools to keep them safe when evil comes upon the door,” he said. 

Members supporting the bill said the legislation would help protect students in potentially deadly situations. 

“Do we sit there call 911 and watch helplessly as our friends and loved ones are getting shot to death or do we have something implemented in place that may allow for some counteraction to take place?” Rep. Julio Gonzalez, R-Naples asked. 

Some committee members expressed reservations about instilling too much confidence in teachers, who they said can also suffer from mental issues which might make them more violent. 

“Just because you’re a teacher doesn’t mean you’re not crazy. There are crazy people in all professions,” said Rep. Ramon Alexander, D-Tallahassee. 

The House subcommittee also passed HB 1419, which would allow churches, synagogues or religious institutions to permit concealed firearms on property grounds. 

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. 
 
Texas law allows concealed firearms on church grounds. 
 
Bill sponsor Lawrence McClure, R-Dover, said the measure was simply a property rights and safety issue for churchgoers in Florida. 

“The vulnerability of our churches is something this bill is seeking to reduce. Nothing more and nothing less,” McClure said. 

Other committee members agreed, contending current state law doesn’t provide churches their full rights to defend themselves. 

“We trample the liberties of churches by limiting their activities...we also trample on their property rights by keeping them from engaging in whatever protective measures they feel...are appropriate for their congregation,” said Rep. Julio Gonzalez, R-Venice. 

HB 621 now heads to the PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee while HB 1419 now heads to the House Judiciary Committee for approval.
 

 

 

Reach reporter Allison Nielsen by email at allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen

 

Comments

What part of "shall not be infringed" is so hard to understand?

What does church carry have to do with this bill? It is already legal to carry concealed in a church in Florida.

What does church carry have to do with this bill? It is already legal to carry concealed in a church in Florida.

You cannot church carry if that church runs a private school or daycare facility. Even if those facilities are closed during Sunday services. And the problem with carry bills has not been the house. This, nor any open carry bill, won't ever get a senate hearing as long as Anitere "Adulterous" Flores is still on their committee.

The thing that most people ignore is state gun laws violate the 10th amendment because of the 2nd amendment. The Constitution not the States or Federal government have the Constitutional power to do what they have been doing with gun laws. They assumed a power they don't have.

Story somewhat misleading ... it is already perfectly legal for a permit holder to carry at a church. The church, however, cannot pay someone to carry a firearm on their property -- even if it is an off-duty police officer (like you see at many malls, special events, bars and other places that large groups congregate.)

Can someone justify the mindset of gun haters who are afraid for law-abiding gun owners to protect children and each but support gun free zones -- a.k.a killing fields -- so depraved law-breakers have a free hand to kill our children and law-abiding adults that who have been disarmed by government ninnies?

I am a gun lover and owner. While I want the right to carry, I frankly don't trust most others with the responsibility. For every responsible gun owner there are two idiots.

Teachers toting guns means that children will have more access to guns in school. Will it be on their person? Their purses? Locked safely away with the ammunition stored somewhere else (as the NRA urges people to do if the space is shared by children)? If it's in a locked drawer in a class room, and the teacher is taking the kids to the cafeteria, what good will it do in an active shooter scenario? If the ammo is kept separately as a best practice for child safety, what good will that do in an active shooter scenario? Guns on campus are just an "attractive nuisance" for little kids who cannot appreciate the consequences of playing with guns, and for big kids who want to harm.

At my middle school I don't think it would be Teachers carrying for the reasons you expressed. I believe the people who are constantly moving around campus and some office personal would be picked by admin to carry.

This is for Rep. Alexander . . . . yes, it is possible that there are "crazy" teachers in some schools. However, when they select which teachers will carry guns, THEY WILL NOT SELECT THE CRAZY ONES!!! Where is your brain, Alexander?????

"Stir 'em up" Allison ! Your early negativism on ALL 2nd Amendment issues is palpable. (May you never be confronted by an attacker intent upon doing you irreparable physical and mental harm). But if you're lucky enough to survive,... SSN will let us know...and we will send flowers & gifts. (If by chance I happen to witness the attack,... I will happily save you,... with my little "inalienable 2nd Amendment Right" gun; and even wait around for 15 or 20 minutes until the police arrive to take my statement).

Re: Anon....well, as long as I feel safer I am for it.

Idiots.

You must be speaking about Moms Demand Action and all the other Anti Gun / Anti 2nd. Amendment Gun Grabbers

Gun crime is correlated with the presence of guns (go figure). Making them more pervasive only has one possible outcome. I am a gun owner and gun rights supporter, but do not support extensive carry laws. All you have to do is go to an unregulated shooting range to get a feel for the aptitude of the average gun owner (most are not responsible with their weapons).

"I am a...gun rights supporter, but do not support extensive carry laws." The first part is a lie if the second part isn't.

I have CWP; a Glock 23 as my primary and an M&P Shield as my backup. I can support gun ownership and rights and still be against allowing guns everywhere.

This is the fundamental question: If an active shooter storms into the doorway of your child's classroom, would you rather your child's teacher have a gun in their pocket or not?

That "good guy stops a bad guy" scenario is played out. Idiots will always outnumber responsible gun owners. Expanding the presence of guns just increases the odds of tragedy. Sure, maybe the good guy stops them, but how many innocents died first?

Good guy stops a bad guys not played out it has happened since the '60s in Texas one guy used an Ar-15 and stopped and attacker that would of been much worse you might want to use your head more than your mouth and find out the facts like places were guns are carried have lower violent crime rates

Luis, The logic of your previous 4 or 5 comments is so full of fallacies that it would take more time than I have to commit to respond to them all. You really need to think about the logic of the statements you are making.

That "good guy stops a bad guy" scenario is played out. Idiots will always outnumber responsible gun owners. Expanding the presence of guns just increases the odds of tragedy. Sure, maybe the good guy stops them, but how many innocents died first?

"...would you rather your child's teacher have a gun in their pocket or not?" Not. I find in media reports 34 incidents involving licensed concealed carriers at schools killing professors, colleagues, supervisors (8 total criminal homicides), plus dozens of abandoned guns and negligent discharges (many GSWs), but just a single dubious example of self-defense (a 22yo licensee killed a 16yo while arguing over a playground basketball game). So, no, thanks.

Like most loony Libs, which oriface did you pull your “statistics” from? Make-it up, puke it out and hope someone believes you. Amazing.

"Mr. GG", You sound just like a "professor or a colleague",... "all wet and full of yourself", citing "dubious" facts...

All you have to do is drive on the roads to gauge the aptitude of the average car owner, which results in more than 50,000 deaths in the USA every year. Cars are too pervasive and must be reduced to protect us from all the bad actors.

To extend your example - yes, there many restriction on car ownership and driving permissions. There are limits on where you can take your care, where they can go, how they are made, etc. etc. Since you brought up the example, do you support regulating gun ownership to the extent we regulate driving and cars, such as register all guns like cars? Or conversely, do support removing all/most restrictions from driving; no speed limits, no insurance, etc? I think not --- bad example.

You confirmed my point. Do all the restrictions you just cited stop the deaths? No. Are speeding limits enforced? Hardly. Mandatory insurance? No, which is why the largest part of my insurance bill is for protection against uninsured/underinsured motorists. Regulation doesn’t stop anyone if they desire to be criminal or negligent or just plain stupid. Most importantly, there is no amendment in the Bill of Rights guaranteeing my unfettered right to operate anything on a roadway, but there is such an amendment that guarantees my right to protect myself against criminals and tyrants.

While intended to be snide, your comment is actually appropriate. Cars are dangerous. Some level of driver aptitude is mandatory, as are driver licenses. Manufacturers are adding new features to reduce accidents and accidental deaths. Are firearm manufacturers doing the same? No - and they and their friends at the NRA resist such efforts. Just because you have a gun doesn't make the world safer. You may believe you are safer, but you might just be making everyone else less safe. A rational discussion is needed. Unfortunately, those expressing the desire to ensure the proliferation of guns (and manufacturer profits) and ensure those guns are carried everywhere by essentially everyone who wants to, are making a rational discussion less likely. As our President would say, "So sad."

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