School guns proposals stalled in Florida Senate

Published April 16, 2015

TALLAHASSEE — A proposal that would allow certain teachers to carry guns in public schools is on life support after the Senate Education Committee declined to vote on it for the second meeting in a row.

The measure (Senate Bill 180) could still come up as an amendment to a related bill.

But Senate Education Committee Chairman John Legg, R-Trinity, has been adamantly against it. He was hopeful that the full Senate would side with him if the measure made its way to the floor.

"I've talked to several members, and they agree that it's not the Senate process to go around us at this point," he said.

The bill, which would allow school employees with law enforcement or military experience to carry concealed weapons on school property, has been under consideration for the past three legislative sessions.

This year's other controversial bill involving guns and schools — a proposal to allow concealed weapons on college campuses — also has stalled in the Senate.

The so-called campus carry bill (House Bill 4005/SB 176) won the approval of two Senate committees earlier in the session. But Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, did not schedule the bill for a hearing Wednesday, and legislative committees are no longer meeting.

"I decided to holster it after polling the members of the Senate," Diaz de la Portilla said. "There wasn't support for it."

Diaz de la Portilla is among the opponents. "I really don't think it is a good idea for a 21-year-old at a frat keg party to be packing heat," he said, "and I'm both an NRA member and a concealed-carry permit holder."

The language could still wind up on the Senate floor, but, under Senate rules, it would face a higher bar for approval.

Students, professors and campus police chiefs plan to remain on high alert. On Wednesday, Florida State students Jade Reindl, 20, and Jacob Elpern, 19, delivered 10,000 petitions from students who oppose the measure to Senate President Andy Gardiner.

"The students have made it very clear: We don't want this bill to pass," said Reindl, a junior from Niceville. "It's not in the best interest of students. It's not in the best interest of the universities."