Bill to allow guns at churches with schools stalls in the Florida Senate

A House companion is still moving.
SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
Florida Senator Debbie Mayfield, 5/4/15.  FOR FILE.
SCOTT KEELER | Times Florida Senator Debbie Mayfield, 5/4/15. FOR FILE.
Published April 8, 2019

A bill (SB 1238) that would allow people to carry concealed weapons at churches operating on the same grounds as schools hit a roadblock Monday, as the Senate Criminal Justice Committee temporarily postponed its consideration and then adjourned for the rest of session.

“This is our last meeting,” chairman Sen. Keith Perry said, shortly after announcing without explanation that the bill would not be heard.

The NRA-backed measure still has life in the House, where a companion (HB 403) is slated to be heard Tuesday by the Education Committee. The House Criminal Justice Committee advanced the legislation along party lines in early March, with members saying the proposal — deemed too controversial to take up a year ago after the Parkland school shooting — would help make churches safer.

Although no reason was offered, some observers speculated the Senate measure was pulled because the five-member panel included Sen. Anitere Flores, the deputy Republican leader who famously has killed gun legislation in past years. Without her support, the two Democrats on the committee could have terminated the legislation outright.

By postponing a vote, Perry left wiggle room to have the bill taken up elsewhere.

Because the Senate version cleared the Judiciary Committee a few weeks ago, it still could make a path toward adoption. But leadership would have to remove it from its current assignment, where it did not get through.

Flores, Perry and bill sponsor Sen. Debbie Mayfield could not be reached immediately for comment.