Campus gun bill faces uncertain future in state Senate
Two gun bills drew hostile fire from the Florida Senate Wednesday hours before the Florida House approved them. A measure allowing Florida’s 1.4 million concealed weapons permit holders to carry their guns on university campuses and another that would allow the open carry of firearms have packed committee meetings with opponents and supporters.
Both cleared the House Wednesday afternoon, but Senate President Andy Gardiner said the Senate may let both measures die without a hearing.
Speaking to reporters before the House went into session, Gardiner said he lets his committee chairs decide which bills to hear. The proposals are sitting in the Senate Judiciary Committee, where chair Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla has already said he will not schedule campus carry for a hearing and has expressed concerns about open carry.
"It is not my intention to pull those bills out of committee. I think it’s important that the chairs have the ability to make those decisions, so I say yea, they’re probably in trouble,” said Gardiner.
Campus Carry, HB 4001, is cosponsored by Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel-Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee.
Rehwinkel-Vasilinda is a member of the faculty at Tallahassee Community College. She said in all her time on campus she has never seen a backpack checked. The term-limited lawmaker has publicly talked about how as a student she used a handgun to defend herself from a sexual assault.
“If it is my time to go and somebody is pointing a gun at me I just assume to try to get off a shot,” said Rehwinkel-Vasilinda. “That’s who I am. I don’t envision waiting patiently for law enforcement to come and rescue me.”
University presidents, faculty and police chiefs have all spoken against the bill.
The open carry measure has also generated opposition due to concerns it conflicts with Florida’s tourism-friendly image. Florida is one of five states that do not permit some form of open carry.
The Senate Judiciary Committee meets Monday afternoon. The agenda for the meeting has yet to be released.