jeff brandes

What the heck is holding up this bill?

St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes on Tuesday for the second time delayed a vote on his bill (296), now seemingly stalled in the Senate Military and Veterans Affairs, Space, and Domestic Security Committee.

“Clearly we’re going to continue to work with law enforcement and the agencies involved to come up with a better product,” Brandes said Tuesday after again postponing a vote on the measure.

The bill could still advance because the committee may hold up to two more meetings, Chairman Thad Altman, R-Melbourne said.

Scott and the National Guard this week came out in support of the plan after NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer took issue with objections to the bill expressed by the chief lawyer for the Florida Department of Military Affairs. The agency is overseen by Scott, who is seeking re-election this year.

Hammer said she questioned the governor’s aides about comments made by Capt. Terrence Gorman, general counsel for the military agency, at a March 19 meeting.

“I’m not interested in bringing law enforcement on board. This is about law-abiding people being able to protect themselves in a time of emergency,” Hammer told reporters after the vote was postponed on Tuesday. “It is not about the convenience of law enforcement.”

I tend to agree with Hammer on this one.


SB 296 (PDF) was written to prevent the gross abuse of basic human and constitutional rights Americans witnessed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina’s strike on New Orleans, where we saw law enforcement officers illegally—and at gunpoint—strip law-abiding citizens of their legally-owned firearms.

If you’ve forgotten the abuses heaped upon citizens by lawless police during this time, this video serves as a stark reminder.

SB 296 is a bill effectively written to protect the citizenry from rogue police officers and agencies during declared disasters, temporarily granting all citizens the same ability to carry concealed weapons. As Hammer notes, shouldn’t be designed to convenience the police, but to protect the citizenry.

In such extraordinary times, good citizens may need to be armed to protect those too weak to protect themselves.

Those blocking this common-sense law need to step out of the way.