The 2016 Legislative Session in Florida is a big year for gun owners and Second Amendment Rights advocates. The issues up for heavy debate are Conceal Carry on College Campuses and Open Carry laws. The following bills address carrying concealed weapons on college and university campuses. Senate Bill 68 – Licenses to Carry Concealed Weapons or Firearms by Senator Evers. The bill would delete a provision prohibiting concealed carry licenses from openly carrying a handgun or carrying a concealed weapon or firearm into a college or university facility. The bill has favorably been voted out of the Senate Criminal Justice Subcommittee (3:2) and Higher Education Committee (5:3), and has two more senate stops: the Judiciary Committee and the Rules Committee. The House companion, House Bill 4001-Licenses to Carry Concealed Weapons or Firearms by Representative Steube, is identical to SB 68. The bill has favorably passed all of its House Committee stops: Criminal Justice Subcommittee (8:5), Higher Education & Workforce Subcommittee (10:3) and Judiciary Committee. This issue of open carry is being addressed by a father-son duo, former Senate President Gaetz and his son, Representative Gaetz. This is the Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 300-Weapons & Firearms. The purpose of the bill will be to provide for construction of statutes that implicate the right to bear arms or engage in self-defense; specifying that a law enforcement officer may arrest a person for the unlicensed carrying of a concealed weapon only upon probable cause that a violation is being committed; providing that a person licensed to carry a concealed firearm or weapon may also openly carry such firearm or weapon as long as such person is in compliance with specified provisions; providing that a person or entity who infringes on specified rights of an individual may be subject to liability under specified provisions. The senate bill has favorably passed in the Criminal Justice Subcommittee (3:2) and has two more stops: the Judiciary and Rules Committees. The identical House companion, Committee Substitute for House Bill 163-Weapons and Firearms, has passed the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee (8:4), Justice Appropriations Subcommittee (7:6) with one more stop in the Judiciary Committee. Our founding fathers recognized the infringement of their personal rights to protect their family and property when the British were forcing the Colonists to relinquish their weapons. Since the beginning of our country’s history, we have been fighting to protect our rights from being suppressed and limited. With the heightened sense of fear due to terrorism and increased criminal activity and personal attacks, it is our right as Americans to be able to take the offensive and be prepared should the need arise. The argument being posed by anti-gun owners and those against the Second Amendment, students should not be able to carry firearms on campus because they are surrounded by opportunities for their judgement to be impaired and strong emotional fluctuations. For those unaware, the only people who would actually be able to carry concealed weapons would be those who have been certified after an approved course in firearm safety and awareness and have met the qualifications for a Concealed Carry Weapon (CCW) License. No person under the age of 21 will be eligible to qualify for a CCW license. During the certification course and after becoming more informed of the proper statutes that regulate the license, the CCW license holder will learn about the designated places where carrying concealed weapons is permitted. These locations are defined under Florida Statute 790.06, Section 12 (a). The real issues we all need to be concerning ourselves with and a counter argument of those opposing the concealed carry on campus are: the only people who obey the Gun-Free Zones and Concealed Carry Weapons Laws are law abiding citizens. Criminals are deemed as such because they are known for breaking the laws that are in place for the safety of others and themselves. The opportunity for students and faculty to be able to carry a concealed weapon on college campuses will provide them with an advantage not only over attackers, but as an aid to law enforcement agencies by containing the situation until their arrival. Assailants will be more likely to think twice, which serves as a deterrent for an attack, in this once deemed highly vulnerable location. No longer will walking to class or to your vehicle alone make you a defenseless target for predators. Concealed weapons take the power away from the criminals.
Conservative Corner – Floridian’s Right to Bear Arms Legislation in 2016 Session