The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear a bill next week which would expand gun owners' rights and legalize open carry in Florida.
The legislation, SB 140, is sponsored by Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, who introduced the measure last year when he was a state representative.
If passed, the bill would allow Florida's 1.7 million concealed carry permit holders to openly carry their firearms. The more sweeping part of the measure, however, would eliminate gun-free zones in places like secondary schools, local centers and government meeting areas.
The bill would not allow CCW permit holders to carry their firearms on college or athletic events and restrictions would still exist on carrying guns to restaurants and bars. Any permit holder in violation of the restrictions in the bill would face a misdemeanor charge.
The Judiciary Committee is the first stop for the bill, and the odds are in its favor this year since Steube chairs that committee.
Last year, the odds weren't stacked in the bill's favor. Last year, former state Rep. Matt Gaetz introduced the bill in the House, where it sailed through that chamber, but faced opposition in the Senate.
Former Sen. Miguel Díaz de la Portilla was at the center of the failure of many pro-gun bills last year, since he chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee where many of Second Amendment bills, including open carry, breathed their last breaths.
Pro-gun groups have asked their members to write to state lawmakers to make the case for passing the bill.
Florida Carry sent out an email to its members over the weekend, advising them to contact legislators over SB 140 and warning them of legal repercussions on gun owners should the bill not pass.
"The right to choose the appropriate method of carry was taken from you," Florida Carry wrote. "This has resulted in the arrest of scores of law-abiding licensees, whose only crime was their handgun became visible."
Last year, the bill gathered mixed reactions from a variety of groups.
The bill showed an evident division among law enforcement officers in Florida, with Florida Police Chiefs Association supporting the measure last year, while the Florida Sheriffs Association (FSA) overwhelmingly opposed the legislation.
The National Rifle Association also went to bat for the law last year.
The bill will be heard Jan. 10 at 2 p.m.