House passes 'guns at work' bill
The Florida House Wednesday passed the so-called guns-at-work bill by a 72-42 vote and sent it to the Senate. Approval came after three years of debate and discussion, over the strong opposition of much of the state's business community. The bill (HB 503), which allows concealed weapons permit holders to keep their guns locked in their cars at work and visitors who do not have such permits, was amended to exclude nuclear plants, and now goes to the Senate. Three Democrats voted for the bill and five Republicans voted against it, including two from Pinellas County: Reps. Jim Frishe and Ed Hooper.
"Law abiding people have a right to have a firearm in their vehicle to protect themselves and their families," said National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer. Senate passage is considered likely, but Gov. Charlie Crist has not said whether he will sign the bill, citing the tussle between gun rights and property rights. "I think there are some real competing issues with that piece of legislation," Crist said recently.
Does the NRA's Hammer think Crist will sign the bill if the Senate passes it? "I never make predictions," Hammer said. Crist would be wise to clear out his email in-box. Lawmakers report getting thousands of email messages in recent days from NRA members.