By: DJ Parten
You may be wondering, how did gun control pass in the so-called “Gunshine State” in the first place?
After years of complacency on the Second Amendment, Florida lawmakers decided to change the state’s gun laws in March last year in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, FL.
But instead of passing pro-gun legislation like Constitutional Carry or Campus Carry, they enacted the largest gun control package in Florida’s history.
This gun control package, crafted by then-Gov. Rick Scott and Senate President Bill Galvano, included mandating waiting periods on all firearm purchases, banning bump stocks, increasing the age to purchase a long gun from 18 to 21, and implementing extreme risk protection orders, also known as red flag gun confiscation laws.
The bill also included measures designed to increase school safety, such as increased funding for “school hardening” and for mental health resources, but the part of the bill that caused the most noise was a measure called the Aaron Feis Guardian Program.
Named after the heroic gym teacher who sacrificed his life for his students, the Guardian Program allows for certain school personnel to attend firearms training and be permitted to carry a firearm on school property, as long as the local school board approves it first.
The Democrats were, in large part, on board with the gun control provisions and the extra funding for school safety. Many did not, however, like the idea of armed personnel on school campuses.
The Democrats also wanted even stronger Second Amendment restrictions, such as the so-called Assault Weapons Ban.
On the other end of the aisle, the Republicans, who crafted the original legislation, largely supported the entire bill, including the gun control.
Anti-gun publication The Trace reported that 67 NRA A-rated Republicans voted for the bill.
The end result of this Republican-sponsored legislation was a minor step in the right direction for school safety coupled with some major infringements on the Second Amendment.
How Should 2A Supporters Move Forward?
Few lawmakers in any state ever have enough gumption to make a push for real change, but all it takes is one or two who are willing to buck the establishment and do the right thing.
The Florida Legislature is no different. There is a disappointingly large lack of principle and motivation to do what is right.
Over an extended period of time, this attitude has allowed the anti-gun crowd to get a foothold in the state and eventually pass gun control.
The only way to fix this trend is to change the culture in Tallahassee. Politicians must come to respect gun owners and respect the Constitution.
This often starts by pushing for pro-gun legislation.
The most pro-gun bill that has already been introduced in Florida is House Bill 6003, filed by Rep. Mike Hill.
This bill would repeal Florida’s “red flag” gun confiscation law. as well as the other parts of the 2018 gun control package.
The only other pro-gun legislation introduced so far is HB 6001, by Rep. Anthony Sabatini. This Campus Carry bill would allow law-abiding adults with a Concealed Weapons Permit to carry on college campuses.
Both these bills were introduced during the 2019 session and neither made it out of committee. The only way to change the complacent and anti-gun culture in Tallahassee is to force politicians to act.
In conclusion, Second Amendment supporters only have one option to take back Florida: get involved in the legislative process, consistently contact legislators, and join an organization like Florida Gun Rights to stay up-to-date on the most important issues facing Florida gun owners.
DJ Parten is executive director of Florida Gun Rights.