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.
“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.”