This year in the Florida House and Senate the Representatives and Senators came out swinging for the fences when it came to restoring some of the rights of Florida’s 1.8 MILLION Concealed Weapons License holders and for that matter for all of Florida’s citizens.
In Florida currently, it is illegal to openly carry either a long gun or handgun unless you are participating in specific activities such as hunting (hard to do without open carrying), fishing (Florida has these huge lizards that can eat people!) and camping (bears, poisonous snakes, and self-protection) among some other things. In addition, it is also illegal to carry a concealed firearm onto or into many places such as college campuses, “a career center”, a total of 15 locations. Some of which make sense like “Any detention facility, prison, or jail..” that serves as a security issue, and I can understand that one, but a “career center”? Really how many problems have there been at career centers before this law?
Florida is one of only 5 states that do not allow some form of open carry either with or without a license. Currently, 11 States have “Constitutional Carry,” meaning unrestricted open carry of firearms. 34 States have some form of open carry. Only 5 states have no for of lawful open carry. Before you say “Hey but Florida does have some type of open carry!” No, they do not. F.S.S. 790.053 prohibits any form of open carry, the other I cited are exceptions in the concealed carry law.
Now back to our legislators. As I said, they came out with a great group of very pro-rights, pro-firearms bills this year. Everything from an open carry bill to campus carry and others. One of the biggest bills they have submitted was a change to Florida’s “Use of Force” law that would change the way Floridians have to defend themselves from the courts and not just criminals. Currently in Florida, if you use self-defense as a defense in a shooting or any other kind of weapon (knife, car, anything you can use to defend yourself) you have to go before a Judge and prove your innocence. You heard me right, what is the normal legal standard for everything in the United States of America, innocent until proven guilty, does not apply in Florida if you use force to defend yourself. The legislators are trying to fix that and put the “burden of proof” back on the state to prove and not the victim. The burden of proof should always be on the state to prove your guilt not the victim to prove innocence.
But this is where the good news stops and the nightmare for Florida’s citizens starts. The “burden of proof” bill has made it through both the House and Senate, but because the two branches differ on some specific wording, there is a distinct possibility that this great and desperately needed change could go nowhere unless the Senate and House can agree on some language.
But what about the other 19 or so pro-rights bills? Well, they have all been stymied by one Republican Senator. That’s right a Republican Senator who is against restoring freedoms and rights to the citizens of Florida. Sen. Anitere Flores has decided for whatever reason to come out against any and all firearms rights bills, and many other bills put out by her fellow Republicans. She has yet to tell anyone why, but rumors have it that she is thinking of jumping parties and running for Miami mayor since she is term limited out. We will have to see.
So why is Florida so messed up and apparently not going anywhere, again this year? Well the NRA and State firearms rights groups do not seem to be making much headway and have not in the past. Some question the methods and the results of the NRA since they gave Sen. Flores an A+ rating on firearms rights. But it’s hard to blame them when Sen. Flores sent a letter to the NRA literally begging for a good rating. Wonder if she knew then what she would be doing to the citizens of Florida? Other pro-firearms frights groups in Florida have seemingly not been able to do much either. Either from lack of effort or leadership, it makes no difference the outcome is the same, nothing happens, and bills go nowhere.
Another issue is that many of the really good bills have not even seen the light of a committee meeting or any kind of discussion. For a bill in Florida to go anywhere, they have to be heard in Committee (usually), and a way that Florida legislators have taken to killing any bill they don’t like is to just not schedule it for any committee hearing. That way they can say they submitted the bill, making them look like they were doing something, but really knew it would go nowhere. Even the author and sponsor of a group of good bills this year has failed to even schedule his own pro-rights bill in his own committee! Is that why he wrote the bill? So he could fail to schedule it for a hearing and let it die without even seeing a fair vote in committee? Didn’t politicians get the hint when the country
As a last resort in Florida, the Senate or House President can pull a bill and place it in another committee or put it on a special schedule for a hearing and vote on the floor. But if he did that he would have to admit that the committee chairs were not doing what they should. It would mean they were actually having to lead instead of just being a figurehead.
So what can Floridians expect from their legislators this year? From the looks of things so far, not much. Seems like the same old story that they had from the last few years. It is even looking like they may not even get a much-needed change to the use of force laws because the legislators are saying they cannot agree on wording in the bills two versions. Well at least the legislators can say they tried, just like last year, and the year before and so on……oh and the groups that are fighting for Floridians? Well, nothing has changed there either. The “grassroots” groups that claim to be fighting for your rights, well not much fighting going on there. I was taught at a very early age, and it served me well in the military and in law enforcement, if something does not work, try something new or change the way you are doing it until it does. Maybe they will step up and really start to make a difference, or they will stay in the shadows, that part is completely up to them.
Sorry Florida, you are listed as one of the “Five” states without real meaningful Firearms Rights laws while other states get Constitutional Carry and all kinds of other improvements.