Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Column: Gun bills continue to see little resistance from Legislature

There are few sure bets when it comes to your state Legislature.

Education is forever a minefield, and gambling remains divisive. Dropping dead on the House floor might reignite the health care debate, but I wouldn't count on that either.

No, if you're a lawmaker looking to increase your legislative batting average, there is really only one issue that has a guarantee of safe passage:

Whip out a gun bill.

The details are never important. It could be about the concealment of guns or the economics of guns. It could be about guns for hunting or protection. Even the need to address guns made out of a breakfast pastry is a topic we're willing to address.

The current session has seen at least 12 gun bills introduced between the Senate and House, and every single one seems to have Tallahassee's rubber stamp of approval.

I may have missed a raised hand here or there, but it looks like these bills have moved on with about 81 percent of the vote in committee and floor votes. Not a single one has died.

Should you be alarmed by that? Yes and no.

A lot of these bills are harmless. Some are pretty effective. But every so often, the National Rife Association tries to sneak one past that could have serious ramifications.

This year, the award goes to the guns-and-riots bill.

The House passed a bill that effectively gives people the right to carry a concealed weapon whenever a state of emergency is declared for a storm or a riot.

On the surface, this law has some appeal. There is a sense of vulnerability during evacuations and having a gun nearby could be a source of comfort.

The problem is in the details. The bill is written so broadly that it practically invites unintended consequences.

For instance, there is virtually no way law enforcement can distinguish between someone truly evacuating and someone taking advantage of the evacuation law.

You certainly can't judge by the direction they're heading. Someone driving toward a riot or toward evacuated beach homes can claim they were picking up friends or relatives. Or they can say they were lost. Or taking a shortcut.

And what if there is an evacuation order on Monday in Miami? Does that give South Florida residents permission to carry a concealed weapon in St. Petersburg on Tuesday?

No one is saying you should have to leave your weapons behind in an evacuation. While speaking for the Florida Sheriffs Association in opposition of the bill, Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford specifically said it's a good idea to remove weapons from the home in case of evacuation.

The key is in the concealed-carry part of the equation.

There is an argument to be made for people taking their guns out of their homes during an evacuation and keeping it locked in a glove compartment or case. It's a different debate when you suggest they be allowed to tuck it into their waistband.

There is a reason the state requires permits to carry concealed weapons. Finger prints. Background checks. Photo IDs. Safety classes. A person with a concealed permit has to demonstrate a certain responsibility. Someone joyriding during a riot or a hurricane should not have the same privileges.

The truth is, the gun lobby already has prevailed on most of the biggest issues in Florida. At this point, they're just running up the score.

Column: Gun bills continue to see little resistance from Legislature 04/12/14 [Last modified: Sunday, April 13, 2014 12:40am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Kriseman gets 2nd police union endorsement

    Blogs

    Mayor Rick Kriseman is already backed by the city's largest police union, the Suncoast Police Benevolent Association.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman has secured another police union endorsement
  2. Vision Zero strategy for safer Hillsborough roads: repaint, narrow lanes, educate

    Transportation

    TAMPA — What would it take to eliminate all traffic deaths in the county that has the most of them?

    Josephine Winiarz, left, and Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp, center, help paint a bike lane on the Bullard Parkway Bridge in Temple Terrace in April. Brighter lanes to make motorists more aware are among the solutions developed to cut pedestrian fatalities [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  3. Vision Zero strategy for safer Hillsborough roads: repaint, narrow lanes, educate

    Local Government

    TAMPA — What would it take to eliminate all traffic deaths in the county that has the most of them?

    Josephine Winiarz, left, and Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp, center, help paint a bike lane on the Bullard Parkway Bridge in Temple Terrace in April. Brighter lanes to make motorists more aware are among the solutions developed to cut pedestrian fatalities [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  4. For starters: Rays vs. Blue Jays: Looking to make it 2 in a row

    Blogs

    Coming off Sunday's win over the Mariners - just their fourth in the last 16 games - the Rays are looking to make it two in a row tonight as they take on the Blue Jays in the opener of a three-game series.

    The teams played last week in Toronto, with the Blue Jays taking three of four.

    RHP Chris …

  5. Commissioner Manfred to visit Trop Wednesday for Rays-Blue Jays

    Blogs

    Commissioner Rob Manfred is slated to be at the Trop on Wednesday.

    And so is Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg.

    And they are scheduled to meet with the media.

    But before you get excited - or riled up - know it's not to make any big announcement on the stadium or the overall future …