The early failure of three proposed bills that would have drastically loosened state gun laws, including one that would have allowed people to bring weapons into a courthouse, is good news for Florida residents and visitors. “No” votes from two Republican senators reinforced that some state legislators are willing to break party lines to vote responsibly.
The Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence is proud of its work in Tallahassee and across the state to help defeat the proposed legislation and will continue to fight for sensible gun laws, including those that would require universal background checks and a ban on the sale of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines.
“These bills were given a fair hearing and failed,” said Patricia Brigham, Coalition co-chair and 1st vice president of the League of Women Voters of Florida. “This is further proof that legislators are listening to voters who do not want irresponsible laws that would continue the gun lobby’s push for ‘guns everywhere.’ It is a victory for public safety.”
The bills were voted down in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Sen. Greg Steube (R-Sarasota) who sponsored two of the bills, just the latest of the proposals he has backed to loosen gun laws in recent years.
In addition to the courthouse-carry bill, another would have allowed concealed carry permit holders to bring guns onto private school campuses with religious institutions on property. The third would have reduced penalties for permit holders who temporarily open carry.
Republican Sens. Anitere Flores and Rene Garcia, both of South Florida, crossed party lines to vote against the private-school and courthouse-carry bills. Garcia voted for temporary open carry, which failed due to a tie vote.
“At a moment when our country is reeling amidst an epidemic of gun violence, Sen. Steube’s gun policy priorities would have allowed more people to have more guns in more places,” said Hannah Willard, senior policy director for Equality Florida. “We applaud the senators who stood on the side of common sense and rejected these dangerous proposals, and we call upon the legislature to take up gun violence prevention policies that would actually make our communities safer.”
Florida PTA Legislative Chair Angie Gallo stressed safety for our children. “The Florida PTA believes that protecting our children and youth from gun violence is paramount and we believe that the safest learning environment, one that is conducive to the highest level of student achievement, is a gun-free environment,” she said. “We applaud the senators who sent a clear message that guns do not belong on any property where a school exists.”
The Coalition To Prevent Gun Violence was created by the League of Women Voters of Florida after the Pulse Nightclub massacre to promote smart gun legislation. It has grown to include more than 120 local, state and national organizations and includes such diverse groups as the Hispanic Federation, Interfaith Council of Central Florida and Doctors for America.