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Politics

Diaz de la Portilla: Open Carry is Dead for 2016 Session

February 17, 2016 - 6:00pm

Rest in peace. Open carry is officially dead in Florida -- at least for now.

On Wednesday, Senate Judiciary Committee chair Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, officially declared open carry dead for this year’s legislative session.

If passed, the legislation would have made it legal for concealed weapons permit holders to openly carry their firearms in the Sunshine State. The proposal was a father and son effort by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Shalimar, and Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville.

As Senate Judiciary Committee chair, Diaz de la Portilla flexed his powerful political muscles by refusing to schedule the open carry legislation for a hearing, a move which effectively kills off the bill for this year’s legislative session. Bills must make their way through three committees before they are heard on the House or Senate floor.

The House portion of the legislation already had its time to shine on the House floor and was approved earlier this month, but without a Senate hearing, the bill can’t go anywhere. 

"Open carry is not going to happen; it's done," Diaz de la Portilla told reporters, according to the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau.

Open carry wasn’t the only fatality -- the Miami Republican also axed a bill to allow guns in airports by refusing to hear that bill as well.  

The legislation was a top priority for Rep. Gaetz and would have made Florida the 45th state in the country to allow open carry. It's currently legal for gun owners to carry handguns openly in 30 states without a license or permit, while 15 states require a license to carry openly.

Opponents of the legislation expressed fears Florida’s economy would suffer because tourists would not want to visit a state where residents could tote their firearms around publicly. 

Those opposed to the law said it was a bad idea for Florida since the state relies so heavily on tourism to boost its economy. Some law enforcement groups and city mayors around the state voiced similar concerns over the legislation, saying it would make law enforcement officers' jobs more difficult and would be bad for some of the state’s thriving areas like the Tampa Bay region.

Some of the bill’s opponents were pleased the proposal would be off the table this year.

“As Florida is a major family tourist destination, with miles of unspoiled beaches and incredible attractions, Diaz de La Portilla made the right decision for the state in acknowledging that families simply do not want to vacation where people are openly carrying deadly weapons in front of their children,” said Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, executive director of MomsRising.org.

The League of Women Voters of Florida, which had expressed hesitations over the legislation, thanked Sen. Diaz de la Portilla for killing off the bill.

Open carry was a 2016 legislative priority for the National Rifle Association, which worked overtime to push the legislation. Former NRA president and current lobbyist Marion Hammer explained to Sunshine State News that even if bills like open carry were killed off, they would keep being introduced until state lawmakers eventually passed them.

“Eventually, everything passes,” she told SSN earlier this month. “If it’s important enough to start, it’s important enough to finish. That’s why when folks keep asking ‘What if these bills don’t pass?’ Well, they’ll be back. If we file a bill, it will be back and back and back until it passes.”

 

Reach reporter Allison Nielsen by email at allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen.

 

Comments

So when was Diaz de la Portilla crowned King of Florida. I must have missed his coronation. I fully respect the Senator's opinion. But he does not speak for the elected Senators throughout the state of Fl. Sen Diaz de la Portilla abused his power and position.

Have you observed HOW items come to the floor? Which bills DO pass committee and which don't? There is no advise & consent. The committee chair decides what proceeds. If you don't like that, I suggest that YOU work to change procedure.

he should be removed from office by the governor

There are rational reps in Tallahassee! Thank you Senator Diaz de la Portilla.

Finally a moderate GOP Senator who put Florida ahead of politics. God bless, #DLP.

He put MONEY over 2nd Amendment rights, and that is putting Florida first? Define Florida? Money or People? That's ok, because Portapotty won't be the chair next year.

Open Carry isn't about second amendment rights. You right to bear arms is safe and sound in Florida under existing law. You simply can't impress your girlfriend and scare tourists away by carrying Josie Wales style.

He's a Miami RINO and he wouldn't put it on the Committee Calendar because he knew it would pass and pass in the full Senate. He'd be a better fit as a Castro Brothers appointed Senator in CUBA.

I agree with you 100% The bill would have protected gun owners and would have made FLORIDIANS safer.

It has been said he has been bought & paid for by Bloomberg, Mr. Anti-Gun himself.

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