Gun violence is nothing new in the state of Florida. It’s almost as if everytime you turn around, another story of violence involving guns is in the news.
In January we had the elderly man who recently shot and killed a father for texting his babysitter during the previews of a movie. There was an incident where a man shot at a car full of teens in November 2012 because of an argument over the loud rap music that was being played. And let’s not forget about the murder of Trayvon Martin in February 2012.
It is safe to say that Florida is a gun-happy state. According to Reuters, the state has some of the most lenient gun laws in the country, and 8 percent of adults hold concealed carry licenses. now a bill (HB 209) has been passed in the Florida House and is heading to the Florida Senate. This bill will allow Floridians to be able to carry and use their firearms without a permit when a state of emergency is declared.
There are no specifics about which types of emergencies would allow your “Average Joe” to brandish his weapon without a permit or any other regulation. Would it be a hurricane, or a riot? Are extra guns around really good thing to have during situations like these?
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri commented, “To allow people to go into a riot while concealing a gun without a permit is the definition of insanity… The bill is crazy. It’s absurd.”
Other members of law enforcement, including the Florida Sheriffs Association, also believe that the bill will cause problems, such as false arrests and clashes with the police. They believe the bill to be too vague.
Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen, R-Fort Myers and Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg , the legislators who introduced the house bill and its senate counterpart (SB 296), say too much specificity would defeat the purpose of the bills.
The house bill passed with a vote of 80-36 and will be sent to the senate, where it is also likely to pass and then head to Governor Rick Scott to sign into law.
Should this bill pass, it is likely that there will be even more gun violence in this state that is already so trigger happy.
Meg is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.