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Florida Report: House Passes Second Amendment bills. Focus now on Senate

Thursday, February 4, 2016

DATE: February 4, 2016
TO: USF & NRA Members and Friends
FROM: Marion P. Hammer
  USF Executive Director 
  NRA Past President

  
Leadership, true leadership, is keeping your word, doing the right thing and setting an example for others.  When legislators tell the citizens of Florida that they support the Second Amendment and self-defense rights, they should mean it. 

After Wednesday's passage of pro-Second Amendment bills by the Florida House, Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, told the media that the House doesn't advance bills based upon what the Senate may or may not do. 

"Our job is to focus on the priorities of the House, and this House has shown in history to be conservative on gun issues and very supportive of Second Amendment rights," Crisafulli said. "We feel that we passed a couple of good bills to send over to the Senate, and we'll see what happens from there." 

That is the essence of leadership.

Speaker Crisafulli's comments came in response to media reports that the Senate may not take up these important bills. But, make no mistake, Senate bill sponsors, Sen. Don Gaetz and Sen. Greg Evers are still working hard to get a hearing in the Senate. 

The House did its job: Four (4) Second Amendment and self-defense bills overwhelmingly passed the Florida House.  Those bills are:

(1)   HB-163 Open Carry/CW License Holders by Rep. Matt Gaetz  PASSED THE HOUSE 80-38  under the strong leadership of Rep. Matt Gaetz and outstanding floor debate by Representatives Dennis Baxley, Neil Combee, Dane Eagle, Julio Gonzalez, Shawn Harrison, Michelle Rehwinkle-Vasilinda, Jimmie Smith and John Wood.

HB-163 is a bill to allow persons with a Concealed Weapons & Firearms License to carry firearms concealed or openly which will prevent CW license holders from being charged with the crime of violating the "Open Carry" law because a concealed firearm, being legally carried, becomes visible to the sight of another person. Terms like inadvertently, accidentally, unintentionally, not deliberate, briefly, etc., are subjective, arbitrary and capricious and will not protect license holders.

Full Open Carry is the ONLY way to protect law-abiding license holders. The Senate companion bill, SB-300 by Sen. Don Gaetz, is currently awaiting a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

(2) HB-4001 Campus Carry/CW License Holders by Rep. Greg Steube (R) & Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel-Vasilinda (D) PASSED THE HOUSE 80-37 under the strong leadership of Rep. Greg Steube and outstanding floor debate by Co-Prime Sponsor Rep. Michelle Rehwinkle-Vasilinda and Representatives Dennis Baxley, Neil Combee, Dane Eagle, Jay Fant, Heather Fitzenhagen, James Grant, Blaise Ingoglia, Scott Plakon, Paul Renner, Jimmie Smith, Jennifer Sullivan, Charles Van Zant, and Ritch Workman. 

This bill will remove the ban on law-abiding gun owners, who are 21 years of age or older and who have a License to Carry Concealed, from carrying concealed weapons firearms on college and university campuses for protection.  It will only allow adult license holders to carry on campus. The Senate companion, SB-68 by Sen. Greg Evers (R) is currently awaiting a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.  

(3) HB-135 Mandatory Minimum Sentences  by Rep. Neil Combee. Having passed the Senate, SB-228 by Sen. Aaron Bean was substituted then the bill PASSED THE HOUSE 119-0.  This bill now goes to Gov. Rick Scott for approval.

This bill removes aggravated assault from the 10-20-Life Mandatory Minimum Sentences.  Some State Attorneys and their prosecutors have been wrongfully using 10-20-Life to prosecute people who were exercising self-defense.  This bill stops prosecutors from trying to put people in prison for 10 years if they show a gun to scare off an attacker or 20 years for firing a warning shot to stop attackers.

(4)  HB-41 Unlawful Discharge of Firearms by Rep. Neil Combee.  Having passed the Senate, the companion bill, SB-130 by Sen. Garrett Richter was substituted then the bill PASSED THE HOUSE 118-0.  This bill now goes to Gov. Rick Scott for approval.

This bill protects property owners who live on large parcels of acreage with no nearby neighbors who can't target practice on their own property because their property is in an area zoned exclusively for residential use. It clarifies existing law on unlawful discharge in residential neighborhoods by defining it as those neighborhoods with a residential density of one or more dwellings per acre.

Further, the bill exempts property in those residential neighborhoods where recreational discharge poses "no foreseeable danger or risk to life, safety, or property" – Example: property that backs up to the ocean or a large body of water, forest or other large uninhabited parcel where there is no foreseeable risk.  It also exempts "accidental discharge" and discharge when "lawfully defending life or property."

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.