4 Gun reform bills overcome opposition to sweep Florida House

Measures to that could bring campus carry, open carry, and improvements to the state’s laws on mandatory minimums and personal shooting ranges found approval.

The two most divisive proposals, which would allow those with concealed carry permits in the state to carry on public college and university campuses as well as openly where allowed by law were split on party lines with three chamber Democrats crossing the aisle to vote with majority Republicans.

Through the process, intense floor debate was needed to strip away a blizzard of amendments that would have done everything from prohibiting those on the no-fly list from getting a carry license, banning open carry with 500 feet of any property owned by a church and even bans on open carrying with magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds.

Even after the win, movement to law on the two bills is stalled as they await hearings on companion measures in the Florida Senate where passage through that body could prove elusive due to friction with Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, and Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, who have vowed not to schedule hearings on the items.

“I think now he has some concerns about open carry,” Gardiner said. “It’s not my intent to pull those bills out of committee, so I would say, yeah, they’re probably in trouble.”

However, state Second Amendment advocates are not so sure about that.

“We have seen an example of exemplary leadership in the House in support of Second Amendment and self-defense rights,” Marion Hammer, executive director of the Unified Sportsmen of Florida and past president of the National Rifle Association, told Guns.com on Thursday. “We hope the Senate will follow their example. The statesmanship of some of our House members has been exceptional. We will not give up on trying to pass pro-Second Amendment legislation. As the old saying goes, ‘it ain’t over ’til it’s over.’”

Headed to the Governor

Two other measures, which would change how prosecutors can use aggravated assault charges under the state’s mandatory minimum laws and clarifies existing law on unlawful firearms discharge in residential neighborhoods found unanimous support. As their Senate companions have passed, they now head to Republican Gov. Rick Scott for likely signature.

Rep. Neil Combee’s HB 135 would remove ag assault from the state’s 10-20-Life guidelines. Second Amendment advocates argue this is needed to protect individuals who display a weapon in self-defense or fire a warning shot to stop an attack from potential charges. In 2012, Marissa Alexander, a 34-year-old mother of three, was given 20-year-sentence, the minimum sentence for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, after she fired a warning shot in a domestic dispute with her estranged husband.

Combee is also the sponsor of HB 41 which would clarify the state’s codes on firing guns in a residential neighborhood by not allowing it in areas with a density of one or more homes per acre. This comes in response to a number of high profile cases of backyard shooting ranges in the state that drew fire for their proximity to neighbor’s homes.

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