Spinning out of control


The spin that opponents of SB-296, the Firearms/Mandatory Evacuation bill, are putting out is dizzying.

The worst part is that many of them are wearing badges while blasting Sen. Brandes’ well-intended legislation.

To be clear, SB-296 allows law-abiding Floridians to take their firearms with them when they’re ordered to evacuate their homes during a declared state of emergency.

It prevents police from making arrests and confiscating firearms when a homeowner is fleeing a hurricane or other natural disaster.

That’s it.

That’s all it does.

Right now, according to Chapter 870, it is illegal to possess a firearm on your person or in your vehicle — even cased — after a sheriff or even a city official has declared a state of emergency and issued an evacuation order.

Sen. Brandes’ bill would allow residents to bring their firearms with them when they bug out, as opposed to leaving them in their homes for looters.

His legislation is strongly opposed by the powerful Florida Sheriff’s Association.

If fact, some of the state’s top sheriff’s are campaigning hard against the bill.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri has called the bill “crazy” and “absurd,” saying

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri

it would allow people to carry concealed firearms into a riot.

Marion Hammer,  executive director of the Unified Sportsmen of Florida and the National Rifle Association’s powerful Florida lobbyist disagrees.

“What strikes me as insane and absurd is for a sheriff to say things that are not only untrue but are inflammatory.  That is unacceptable,” she said. “To say that a person could be going to a riot is patently untrue.   The bill is limited to the act of evacuating from the area during a mandatory evacuation — that means going away from the danger.   To say otherwise is untrue.”

This isn’t the first time the good sheriff has wanted to regulate firearms.

You’ll recall last year, he vowed to start enforcing a little-used county ordinance that requires background checks at local gun shows for all private sales. The ordinance had gathered dust since it was enacted in 1998.

The sheriff sent undercover deputies into local gun shows, to monitor private sales between individuals. Thankfully, no arrests were made.

If, God forbid, a hurricane takes aim at Sarasota and we’re forced to flee, most of the law-abiding folks I know won’t be leaving their firearms behind for the looters and the thieves.

I would hazard a guess that the lawmen who remain behind and ride out the storm would appreciate this.

The bad guys have enough guns.



About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.


  1. Meantime, in other states, the sheriffs are standing up against lawmakers who pass un-constitutional anti-gun legislation. And even refusing to enforce those laws. What’s wrong with our sheriffs here in Florida? Makes me wonder: Which side are they on, anyway?

  2. Pingback: Debunking the lies about Florida's "Hurricane" law... | The Gun Feed

  3. When the social order breaks down, the need for personal protection is amplified exponentially.

    That is just a fact, and the Pinellas County Sheriff knows it. His opposition is statist in nature, and that should be pointed out at the next election.

  4. It’s simple, come election time vote for who ever backs the citizens like an elected official is suppose to do. Kick these Sheriffs out of office.

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