Opinion by Marion P. Hammer
Unified Sportsmen of Florida Executive Director
NRA Past President
Florida – -(AmmoLand.com)- Once again the Florida Legislature has turned a deaf ear to the pleas of ministers, church administrators and church members. Churches have repeatedly – for over 3 years – prayed and urged the legislature to correct the provision in Florida law that usurps the right of churches to provide safety and security on their property.
While the Florida House listened and passed legislation removing the restriction, the Florida Senate refused to allow SB-1238 by Sen. Debbie Mayfield (R), to pass.
- Sen. Mayfield’s bill passed out of the first committee (Senate Judiciary Committee) by a vote of 4-2. However, Republican Senator Anitere Flores refused to support the bill in the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, thus preventing it from coming to a vote. Senate leadership did nothing to help. The Senate Criminal Justice Committee is made up of 3 Republicans and 2 Democrats but Sen. Anitere Flores is one of the 3 Republicans on the committee and is anti-gun and anti-church property rights.
- Sen. Flores not only blocked the Church Protection bill this year, she is responsible for effectively killing it with a bad amendment in 2018, gutting it, and making it unacceptable. She also voted to kill it in committee in 2017. It appears this is her specialty.
- Sen. Anitere Flores’ history of opposing the private property rights of churches and other religious institutions, as well as her clear opposition to the First Amendment rights and Second Amendment rights of churches and other religious institutions, is well known. One is therefore prone to wonder if Senate President Bill Galvano deliberately referred the 2019 Church bill to the Criminal Justice Committee to allow Sen. Flores to kill it a third year in a row.
Reports filed with the Florida Division of Elections and reports in the media (Florida Politics article by Drew Wilson 11/2/2018) show that Republican President Bill Galvano took at least $500,000 from former NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown/Moms Demand anti-gun groups. We know Everytown’s money was for something – killing the church bill might have been part of the reason they gave the money to Sen. Galvano in the first place.
In the House, the Church bill, HB-403 by Rep. Erin Grall, passed out of all three committees of reference (House Criminal Justice Committee 12-2; House Education Committee 15-3; House Judiciary Committee 11-6), and then passed on the House Floor by a vote of 79 to 35, with 9 Democrats voting in FAVOR of the bill.
The House is to be commended for passing the bill all the way through the process even though they suspected that Senate Leadership would kill it in the Senate
No Gun Control Bills Pass
While no gun control bills passed this session, no pro-gun bills passed either. However, several bills that are good for gun owners and all Floridians did pass and are awaiting signature by Governor DeSantis.
School Safety Bill Allows Teachers To Choose To Carry
SB-7030 Implementation of Legislative Recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission – Requiring sheriffs to establish a school guardian program; requiring the Office of Safe Schools to annually provide training for specified personnel; requiring district school boards and school district superintendents to partner with security agencies to establish or assign safe-school officers; revising requirements for school district zero-tolerance policies; providing standards and training for classroom teachers who choose to go through training in order to be armed at school.
The House vote was 65 – 47 with five (5) Republicans voting AGAINST the bill. They are all newly elected freshman and probably not Republicans at all. They are: Vance Aloupis (R-Miami), Mike Beltran (R-Valrico), Mike Caruso (R-Boca Raton), Chip LaMarca (R-Lighthouse Point) and David Smith (R-Winter Springs). The Senate vote was 22-17 with Sen. Anitere Flores voting against it (along with the Democrats). SIGNED BY GOVERNOR MAY 8, 2019
Privacy Rights Of Concealed Carry License Holders
HB-7059 Concealed Carry License – Keeps in place the exemption from public records requirements for certain personal identifying information of concealed weapons and firearms license holders and individual applicants for a license to carry a concealed weapon or firearm. There were no votes against this bill. SIGNED BY GOVERNOR MAY 14, 2019
Locals Must Pay Attorney Fees For Preemption Violations
HB-829 Attorney Fees by Rep. Anthony Sabatini (R) Imposes an award of attorney fees and costs and damages in civil actions against local governments when organizations and individuals have to bring lawsuits against municipalities and counties for violating preemption laws. Effective Date: 7/1/2019. The vote on House Passage was 77-31 and in the Senate, 25-14. AWAITING GOVERNOR’S SIGNATURE.
Protecting The Constitution From Outsiders
HB-5 – Contains an amendment by Rep. James Grant (R) to restore the right of Floridians to control the Florida citizen’s initiative petition process. The amendment is intended to stop out-of-state millionaires and billionaires from sending paid, out-of-state petition gatherers into Florida to collect petition signatures to change Florida’s Constitution for the benefit of out-of-state special interests. The House voted 105-0 to pass the Grant amendment with 15 House members not voting. The Senate concurred in the Grant amendment and passed the bill 22-17. AWAITING GOVERNOR’S SIGNATURE.
For the final disposition of pro-gun and anti-gun bills during the 2019 Session please click here:
USF 2019 End of Session Bill Report
About Unified Sportsmen of Florida;
Unified Sportsmen of Florida was organized in 1976 for the purpose of protecting the firearms rights of all law-abiding firearms owners in Florida.
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