Lee’s note: For gun owners or those who care about civil rights, it appears that this legislative session will be as bad as previous legislative sessions. My colleague Zac Anderson has the story.
Steube, R-Sarasota, sponsored two of the bills and chaired the committee where they were heard. He struggled to corral Republican votes for his gun bills for the second year in a row.
A pair of South Florida Republicans who helped scuttle the bulk of Steube’s proposed gun measures last year joined to block him again this year. The action Tuesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee decreased the likelihood of any significant gun rights proposals advancing through the GOP-controlled Legislature this year.
The gun measures voted down Tuesday included legislation allowing concealed weapons at private religious schools on church properties and a bill that would have decreased the penalty for accidentally displaying a concealed weapon in public.
Those two proposals also were included in a broader bill that included some provisions opposed by gun rights groups along with language allowing concealed weapons to be carried into courthouses and left with security. That legislation also failed, leaving Steube defeated again on his signature issue, this time before Florida’s annual two-month legislative session has even begun.
“The bill in itself does nothing to address the issue of mental health, an issue that I feel as passionate as the chairman feels about gun issues,” said Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, in voting against the catch all gun bill.
Garcia joined with Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, and four Democrats to vote against two of the gun bills, and Flores sided with the Democrats in killing the third. The two South Florida Republicans also combined to block most of Steube’s gun bills last year.
The proposal to allow guns in private religious schools advanced in the Senate last year after being modified to address concerns raised by some senators. Garcia said House Republicans rejected the Senate’s compromise bill, preferring the original version.
Gun rights lobbyist Marion Hammer argued that allowing concealed weapons at private religious schools is a property rights issue.
“We don’t view this bill as a gun bill,” she said. “It’s a private property rights bill.”
Critics pointed to the risk of accidental shootings and disagreements escalating to gun violence.
Click here to read the rest of Zac’s story.