DATE: May 22, 2015
TO: USF & NRA Members and Friends
FROM: Marion P. Hammer
USF Executive Director
NRA Past President
SB-290, Firearms/Emergency Evacuation by Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) and Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen (R-Ft. Myers) was signed into law yesterday by Governor Rick Scott and took effect immediately.
SB-290 is a bill to protect citizens from being disarmed and charged with a crime for carrying a weapon or firearm when in the process of evacuating during a mandatory evacuation ordered by the Governor or a local government during a declared state of emergency.
When you're ordered under a mandatory evacuation to take your family, pets and important documents and leave your home and other belongings behind, you should not be deprived of the ability to protect yourself and your family. You should not be denied the right to take your firearms with you and forced to leave them behind for looters. This bill is especially important for law-abiding people in a state that is prone to evacuations due to hurricanes.
A second important element of the bill is the correction of the statutory construction of Florida Statute 790.01, the law that prohibits concealed carry. The law passed in 1987 and was never intended to allow concealed weapons and firearms license holders to be treated like criminals.
However, in 2013 in Mackey v. State, 124 So. 3d 176, 181 (Fla. 2013) the Florida Supreme Court ruled that carrying a firearm or weapon, even with a license, is a crime and that a person with a license only has an "affirmative defense" against the crime. In other words, since that ruling, a license holder found to be carrying a concealed firearm could become the victim of an anti-gun law enforcement officer or prosecutor and still be arrested and charged with a crime and have to defend himself in the legal system.
The attorney for the license holder in that case was Eric Friday, General Counsel for Florida Carry, Inc. Mr. Friday crafted corrective language and we worked with Mr. Friday, Senator Brandes and Rep. Fitzenhagen to include corrective language in SB-290 to be sure the statutes could not be interpreted in that manner again.
Now, the statutes are clear. Unlicensed concealed carry is a crime. Licensed concealed is not.
This is a great bill and we can breathe a little more of Freedom's air because it is now the law in Florida -- thanks to the 29 Senators, 89 Representatives and Governor Rick Scott.
Click here for Senate Floor Vote and here for House Floor Vote
Read the bill here: