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Politics

Florida's Top Gun Stories of 2015

December 29, 2015 - 7:00am

Guns fired their way through headlines in 2015, sparking both widespread controversy and lengthy discussions over gun rights and gun safety in the Sunshine State.

 Several legislative proposals were at the center of this year’s gun issues, causing quite the commotion in Tallahassee all year round.

Campus Carry Controversy

State lawmakers began their first push to allow guns on college campuses during the 2015 regular legislative session. Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker, and Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota both threw their weight behind a proposal which would have allowed concealed carry permit holders over the age of 21 to bring their firearms onto college campuses. 

The bill immediately sparked heated discussion with gun rights groups fighting for the passage of the bill and students, college professors and university police officers fighting against it. 

Supporters of the legislation said it was an important measure to ensure student safety, especially for college-aged women. They also argued it was an important way for Floridians to exercise their Second Amendment rights.

Rebekah Hargrove, president of Students for Concealed Carry at Florida State University, said concealed carry permit holders are well-trained in gun safety and should be allowed to have the freedom to exercise both their constitutional rights and their own freedoms.

“This bill is about choice,” she said.

The bill sailed through the House, but had a more difficult time making its way through the Senate. The proposal was shelved from the Senate Judiciary Committee agenda, ultimately killing off the bill.

Supporters of the legislation said Senate President Andy Gardiner was the one responsible for taking the bill off the agenda, but Gardiner denied any involvement in removing the bill. 

That wasn’t the end of the line for the campus carry proposal, however -- Evers and Steube have already reintroduced the proposal for the 2016 legislative session in January, when the legislature will take up the measure once more.

Burden of Proof Could Shift in Stand Your Ground
Another new legislative proposal, SB 344,  sponsored by Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, would shift the “burden of proof” for Stand Your Ground cases, giving defendants more protection from prosecution by requiring prosecutors to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” whether a defendant is entitled to immunity at a pretrial hearing in order to disprove a claim of self-defense immunity. 

Sen. Bradley introduced the bill after a recent ruling from the Florida Supreme Court this summer which said defendants would be responsible for the burden of proof showing they shouldn’t be prosecuted in Stand Your Ground cases.

Bradley’s companion legislation, sponsored by Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, didn’t fare as well in the House -- in November, the bill stalled out in the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee when it flopped due to a 6-6 tie vote -- leaving the future of the bill dim. But despite many saying it was dead, the proposal received a second life in the Senate, where it chugged along in its respective committees and will now head to the full Senate floor for a vote. 

Open Carry Comes to Florida
A proposal to allow concealed weapons permit holders to openly carry their firearms in Florida successfully made its way through the necessary committees during the tail end of 2015, and the legislation has already caused a rift between gun rights groups and police groups across the state. 

The “open carry” legislation, sponsored by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Shalimar, and Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, would make it legal for anyone with a concealed weapons permit to openly carry their firearm in public places. 

The National Rifle Association pledged its full support behind the bill, saying it was a good way for concealed permit holders to avoid being arrested for accidentally displaying their firearms. 

“Anytime you carry concealed, you are in danger of being arrested, charged, and prosecuted like a criminal for violating the ban on open carry of firearms, if your gun is accidentally, unintentionally, briefly exposed to the sight of another person,” wrote former NRA president and lobbyist Marion Hammer to members. 

Not everyone was onboard with the proposed legislation, however. The Florida Sheriffs Association, which represents sheriffs nationwide, said the bill was too broad and didn’t have enough limits, adding it would make it difficult for law enforcement officers to ensure public safety. 

Another law enforcement group, the Florida Police Chiefs Association, said it would back a revised version of the bill which added holstering requirements among other amendments. 

If the Gaetzes' bills pass, Florida would join many other states allowing open carry in the U.S. As of Aug., 31 states across the country do not require a permit to openly carry a weapon. A higher number -- 44 states -- currently allow open carry. Few states have an outright ban on the practice — California, Florida, Illinois, New York, South Carolina and Texas all don’t allow open carry.

Roughly 1.5 million Floridians currently possess concealed carry permits.

 

 

Comments

The responsible firearms owners of Floria chose to recklessly discharge their firearms into the air to celebrate the New Year. At least 2 children were injured and there was property damage. Somebody failed to explain simple physics. What goes up must come down. It also put the whole gun movement into question. The NRA and gun folks have long refused to mandate adquate training. Well, that argument is dead. Just hope the continue fight against reasonable regulations doesn't cause more injuries and maybe deaths.

So you were there and saw each person pull the trigger? How the hell do you know it was responsible gun owners and not gang bangers or nba players? Seriously though, your a douche.

BS. Responsible gun owners did no such thing. Irresponsible ones did. I see you read the heavily biased "news article" being circulated on Facebook. Congratulations, low info voter, you've been duped again.

“Anytime you carry concealed, you are in danger of being arrested, charged, and prosecuted like a criminal for violating the ban on open carry of firearms, if your gun is accidentally, unintentionally, briefly exposed to the sight of another person,” wrote former NRA president and lobbyist Marion Hammer to members. I am under the impression that Governor Scott gave a ruling on this problem in the event an incident exposed a concealed weapon like putting on a coat exposed a weapon briefly? Am I correct in this assumption?

Correct however it is up to the police to decide what is accidental so there you go.

The hard-left Marxists who infect our federal government plus the MSM media prostitutes who protect them will gleefully lie, falsify, fabricate, slander, libel, deceive, delude, bribe, and treasonably betray the free citizens of the United States.. Second Amendment foes lying about gun control - The Second Amendment has nothing to do with hunting. The Second Amendment has nothing to do with personal self-defense.Firearms are our constitutionally mandated safeguard against tyranny by a powerful federal government. Only dictators, tyrants, despots, totalitarians, and those who want to control and ultimately to enslave you support gun control. No matter what any president, senator, congressman, or hard-left mainstream media prostitutes tell you concerning the statist utopian fantasy of safety and security through further gun control: They are lying. If their lips are moving, they are lying about gun control. These despots truly hate America.. These tyrants hate freedom, liberty, personal responsibility, and private property. But the reality is that our citizens’ ownership of firearms serves as a concrete deterrent against despotism. They are demanding to hold the absolute power of life and death over you and your family. Ask the six million Jewws, and the other five million murdered martyrs who perished in the Nazzi death camps, how being disarmed by a powerful tyranny ended any chances of fighting back. Ask the murdered martyrs of the Warsaw Ghetto about gun control. Their single agenda is to control you after you are disarmed. When the people who want to control you hold the absolute power of life and death over your family, you have been enslaved. The hard-left Marxist and Islamists who infect our federal government plus the MSM media prostitutes who protect them will gleefully lie, falsify, fabricate, slander, libel, deceive, delude, bribe, and treasonably betray the free citizens of the United States into becoming an unarmed population. Unarmed populations have been treated as slaves and chattel since the dawn of history. Will we stand our ground, maintaining our constitutionally guaranteed Second Amendment rights, fighting those who would enslave us? American Thinker

To the smugly ignorant Mr. Warner: When did legal gun owners -- "gun slingers" -- become the enemy? Gun-control advocates, in their emotional incapacity to understand firearms laws and firearms, have alienated 100 million law-abiding Americans for the actions of lunatics, criminals and terrorists ... and then they wonder why they can't win at the ballot box or in the courts. Classic example of shooting yourself in the face, pardon the pun.

To the smugly ignorant Mr. Warner: When did legal gun owners -- "gun slingers" -- become the enemy? Gun-control advocates, in their emotional incapacity to understand firearms laws and firearms, have alienated 100 million law-abiding Americans for the actions of lunatics, criminals and terrorrists ... and then they wonder why they can't win at the ballot box or in the courts. Classic example of shooting yourself in the face, pardon the pun.

To the smugly ignorant Mr. Warner: When did legal gun owners -- "gun slingers" -- become the enemy? Gun-control advocates, in their emotional incapacity to understand firearms laws and firearms, have alienated 100 million law-abiding Americans for the actions of lunatics, criminals and terrorrists ... and then they wonder why they can't win at the ballot box or in the courts. Classic example of shooting yourself in the face, pardon the pun.

Just read a a good researched article that said stupid people don't know they are stupid. That's this love gun thingy in an expended shell case. Unfortunately all the rest of us just have to stop doing any business with any business that allows a gun slinger into their store - or now, their classroom.

Have a nice life in your underground bunker Lmao!

We are everywhere. Publix, Walmart, churches, the Capitol, and we carry everyday.

Warner is just another "citizen" with an illogical,irrational fear of guns. He doesn't realize that the shooters in this country are your innercity denizens who, if they voted, would vote likr warner. These people don't have a CCW license,nor do they belong to the NRA and,warner, to them you are just a big,fat,target for their exploitation.

I strongly suggest that EVERYONE involved read our unique U.S. Constitution and its "Bill of Rights": it's what America was built upon (and has infuriated America's detractors [ Communists, Socialists and Liberal politicians ] for well over 200 years): Without it, we are nothing more than slaves to conquering "hordes" of one sort or another (both from without and within our borders). WAKE UP PEOPLE before you end up on the outside looking in..!

Amen

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