Bill Expanding Florida Carry Laws Moving Forward

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In a lot of states, you can carry guns in churches. However, sometimes, there are nuances to the law that don’t show up until after a law is passed.

One example is Florida’s law legalizing the carry of a firearm in a church. Sounds pretty straightforward, right?

Except, the way the law is written, if the church has a school attached as many do, then the law doesn’t apply. This is a problem since it would allow a potential attacker to just go with churches that have schools attached.

So far, that hasn’t happened thankfully, but we all know it could.

Now, the state is one step closer to fixing that issue.

An effort to allow people to carry guns at churches that share locations with schools is going to the Senate floor. The Rules Committee on Tuesday approved a measure (HB 259) that would allow people with concealed-weapons licenses to bring guns on properties shared by churches and schools. Florida law generally allows people to carry concealed weapons at churches, synagogues, mosques and other religious institutions, but it bars being armed on school properties. That leads to people being prevented from carrying guns on properties shared by religious institutions and schools. Senate sponsor Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, said churches leasing school space are potential targets as they operate without armed security details.

“There are always threats,” Gruters said. “And all we’re doing is giving them, those religious institutions, the ability and the right to be able to say ‘yes,’ if we choose. We’re going to allow concealed permit holders —- it’s not the wild, wild west —- we’re giving one of the safest subgroups in our society the ability to carry.”

Of course, the Orlando Weekly described it as “Guns at Sunday School” in their headline, which isn’t quite the case. After all, guns are already allowed in Sunday schools…it’s the Monday through Friday schools that are the heart of the issue.

Regardless, the committee’s approval is a key step for the bill, one that desperately needs to pass in Florida.

Senate Minority Leader Gary Farmer claims, however, that mass shootings have never been stopped by the good guy with a gun. I’m sure that’ll be news to Jack Wilson, a man who stepped up and put an end to what would have been a mass shooting at a church in White Settlement, Texas.

It’s also news to Stephen Williford, who engaged the killer in Sutherland Springs when he exited the building, likely intent on continuing his rampage.

Same for Jeanne Assam who ran toward danger as an armed volunteer security guard for the New Life Church in Colorado Springs and put down an active shooter.

Those are just three names I can pop off right here, right now.

The problem is that so many of these attacks never become mass shootings because the good guy with a gun puts an end to the threat before it gets a high enough body count to qualify. This is a good thing, of course, but it allows people like Farmer to just pretend these things never happen. They do.

Florida needs this bill to pass because if it doesn’t, the next Jack Wilson or Stephen Williford or Jeanne Assam might not be able to act and save an untold number of lives.

 

May 16, 2021 8:30 AM ET