Advertisement
  1. Opinion

Editorial: Senate should reject reckless gun bill

The Florida Senate takes up a bill today that would endanger the public by allowing anyone who owns a gun to carry one secretly during a declared state of emergency.
The Florida Senate takes up a bill today that would endanger the public by allowing anyone who owns a gun to carry one secretly during a declared state of emergency.
Published Mar. 17, 2015

The Florida Senate takes up a bill today that would endanger the public by allowing anyone who owns a gun to carry one secretly during a declared state of emergency. Critics mock it as the "bring your gun to a riot bill" because that's exactly what it would do. This legislation would only invite more chaos at the worst possible time, and it would not give gun owners any reasonable protections they don't already have. The Senate should reject it.

A similar measure died on the Senate floor last year, and while the new legislation is tailored more narrowly, Senate Bill 290 still promotes the interests of gun extremists at the expense of the public — and for no practical purpose whatsoever.

The bill would allow legal gun owners to carry a weapon during the first 48 hours of a declared state of emergency even if these owners did not possess a state concealed weapons license. The time limit was added to this year's bill at the request of the Florida Sheriffs Association, which supports the measure. But this legislation still makes no sense, and loopholes in the bill still make it virtually impossible to enforce while creating conditions that could lead to disastrous consequences.

Supporters say the bill is needed to enable gun owners without conceal-carry permits to legally transport their weapons during an emergency. Yet state law already allows those without a permit to transport a weapon, provided the gun is secured in a glove box, case or container. Gun owners are no more subject to arrest for violating the conceal-carry restrictions in these cases than they would be if they were taking a firearm to the gun range or to be cleaned.

The tighter language in this year's bill is smoke and mirrors. Creating a 48-hour window for more people to secretly carry weapons on the streets only guarantees that more guns will be in circulation in the highly charged, opening days of any state emergency. That timetable could be extended. The bill gives law enforcement no framework for deciding whether a person is in compliance by being "in the act of evacuating."

Sheriffs and other local officials could trigger the amnesty period, too, if they foresaw an "imminent threat" to peace and order that warranted a local state of emergency. The bill also conflicts with statutory restrictions against taking a gun in some cases to a public shelter. And supporters have yet to make a credible argument why such a law is needed at all.

Public tensions already run high during Florida's hurricane season, and a declared state of emergency would only heighten anxieties, as people move from the security of their homes and established routines to ride out a disaster or violent situation. This is not the environment that calls for more firepower.

It's enough that 1.4 million citizens possess a conceal-carry permit. But at least they have passed a background check and completed safety training. The Senate should not add to the danger that already exists in public emergencies. It should reject this bill and send a clear message that safety comes first.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. There are great programs in Hillsborough public schools to provide free or low-cost breakfast and lunch for students who qualify.
    Proposed changes by the Trump administration would make some students go hungry.
  2. A CH-47 Chinook helicopter takes off after dropping soldiers in Bagh village of Khakeran Valley, Zabul province, Afghanistan. [TOMAS MUNITA  |  AP]
    Here’s what readers had to say in Wedneday’s letters to the editor.
  3. Technology jobs in industries including aerospace are highly coveted. A SpaceX Falcon heavy rocket lifts off from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral earlier this year. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
    Five metro areas dominate high-tech employment. There isn’t a Florida city among them.
  4.  [Bill Day -- FloridaPolitics.com]
  5. Yesterday• Letters to the Editor
    Pinellas County tourism officials are selling area beaches in two places that need them most this time of year: NYC and Chicago. [Tampa Tribune]
    Here’s what readers had to say in Tuesday’s letters to the editor.
  6. Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly, center, and Navy Adm. Michael Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations, look on as an Air Force carry team moves a transfer case containing the remains of Navy Seaman Mohammed Sameh Haitham, of St. Petersburg on Sunday at Dover Air Force Base, Del. A Saudi gunman killed three people including Haitham in a shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen) [CLIFF OWEN  |  AP]
    Service members like Mohammed “Mo” Haitham of St. Petersburg should not be at risk of being killed on a base in their home state.
  7. The effects of Red Tide are seen at Pass-a-Grille Beach in St. Petersburg in Sept. 2018 where hundreds, perhaps thousands of fish lie dead on the beach. [MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    A state task force meets this week in St. Petersburg to listen and discuss the options.
  8. Pasco County letters to the editor
  9. Hernando County community news [Tara McCarty]
    Hernando County letters to the editor
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement