TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown for Gun Safety, today applauded state lawmakers for defeating three extreme polices backed by the gun lobby. All garnering bipartisan opposition, Senate Bills 274, 134 and 148 failed to receive the necessary votes to move out of the Committee on Judiciary. Volunteers from the Florida chapter of Moms Demand Action attended the hearing to oppose all three bills and testified against Senate Bills 274 and 134 earlier today.
Senate Bill 274 would have allowed people to carry guns in all Florida private schools that have any religious institution on the grounds. The proposed law would have applied to elementary, middle and high schools, making it easier for people to carry guns around our children. It would have also applied to private college campuses, despite the risk factors that make the presence of guns potentially dangerous on college campuses, including high levels of binge drinking and drug use and the prevalence of depression and other mental health issues. The bill garnered bipartisan opposition in a failed 4-6 vote.
Senate Bill 134 would have made it easier to carry hidden, loaded guns into buildings that house courtrooms and subject local officials to lawsuits and penalties for trying to protect public safety. This bill would have established a new, more narrow definition of a courthouse. Under the new bill, guns would have only been prohibited in areas primarily used for hearings and trials – meaning that in any building where a court shares space with other agencies, people would have actually been able to bring their guns right up to the courtroom door. The bill was also amended to include open carry provisions in Senate Bill 148 and guns in private schools provisions from Senate Bill 274, making this an extremely dangerous omnibus bill.
Senate Bill 148 would have essentially legalized the open carry of firearms in Florida, despite the known dangers of such a policy. Research has consistently shown that the presence of a visible gun makes people more aggressive, and increases the risk that everyday disagreements will become deadly. Additionally, recent incidents like the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville have demonstrated how open carry policies can be used to intimidate peaceful protestors.
STATEMENT FROM GAY VALIMONT, VOLUNTEER CHAPTER LEADER WITH THE FLORIDA CHAPTER OF MOMS DEMAND ACTION FOR GUN SENSE IN AMERICA:
“I’m thrilled with today’s committee votes. Guns carried by civilians have no place in our children’s schools, period. Schools should be safe, nurturing environments for students to learn. Allowing civilians to carry guns in buildings with courtrooms would only escalate the threat of gun violence in places where emotions run high. And for over 30 years, Florida has made the common-sense choice to prohibit the open carry of firearms in public places – there was no reason to change it. I applaud the courageous members of the judiciary committee for recognizing the dangers of these bills and voting no. We will continue to work with policymakers from both parties to promote commonsense gun policy. Florida is no longer the gun lobby’s playground.”