JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A bill allowing law-abiding Floridians to carry concealed firearms without a permit cleared the full Senate Thursday and is now on its way to the Governor’s desk.
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Republicans argue doing away with the state-issued license requirement will remove a financial barrier for self-protection, but Democrats argue also doing away with current training requirements needed to carry in public will make the state less safe.
“People are going to die because of carelessness,” Senator Jason Pizzo (D-Miami) said.
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Republicans argued the measure allows law-abiding citizens to exercise their constitutional right.
“If any of us were debating about a law to infringe on an American’s civil rights, any other civil rights, we would be fighting back,” Senator Jonathan Martin (R-Fort Myers) said.
The bill’s final hearing comes just days after a mass shooting claimed the lives of six in a Nashville Christian private school.
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It was a a point not lost on Patricia Brigham with Prevent Gun Violence Florida.
“The real true way to honor those victims would have been to pull the bill,” Brigham said.
But Republicans highlighted the legislation also includes numerous school safety measures including mandatory active assailant policies for law enforcement agencies, $60 million for school hardening and safety programs and an expansion of the guardian program to allow private schools to train and arm school staff.
“We just saw the tragedy that occurred this week across the state at a private school. This could not be more timely policy,” Senator Alexis Calatayud (R-Miami) said.
But Brigham sees the bill as a continuation of Republicans including poison pills in otherwise bipartisan school safety legislation.
“Putting permitless carry in, that’s a deal breaker. Period,” Brigham said.
The bill passed on a 27-13 vote with all twelve Democrats and one Republican voting no.
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It now heads to the Governor, who has already said he will sign the legislation into law.