By John Haughey | The Center Square
More than 100 gun-control bills and dozens of gun-rights bills were introduced by Florida lawmakers before the 2020 legislative session began in January.
As the 60-day session marked its midpoint this week and the state observed the somber two-year anniversary of the Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Friday, few of the bills have had committee hearings, and not one is likely to pass.
In the wake of the school shooting that left 17 dead in Parkland, the Legislature, which was in session at the time, adopted Senate Bill 7026, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act – a quickly assembled, $400 million response that included several gun-control measures previously inconceivable in Florida.
Among them: The minimum age to purchase firearms was raised to 21; a three-day waiting period was imposed to buy firearms; bump stocks were banned, and greater authority was granted to law enforcement to seize weapons under red-flag laws.
Since Florida became one of 16 states and the District of Columbia to adopt red-flag laws under SB 7026, they have been applied more than 3,500 times to confiscate firearms from individuals who police agencies and civil courts have deemed under mental duress or threatening, according to an Associated Press analysis.
Of the slate of gun-control and gun-rights bills filed for the 2020 session, only two have advanced into committee hearings: SB 7028, sponsored by Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, which would close to the so-called gun-show loophole, and House Bill 183, filed by Rep. Mel Ponder, R-Fort Walton Beach, which would allow elected members of governing bodies with concealed weapons permits to carry at public meetings.
HB 183 has passed three committees and awaits adoption on the House floor. Its Senate companion, SB 1524, sponsored by Sen. George Gainer, R-Panama City, however, has not been heard in any Senate committees.
SB 7028, which proposes to create a record-keeping system for private gun sales and to set aside $5 million to establish a statewide strategy for violence prevention, also would expand the state’s red-flag law.
The Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee unanimously endorsed the measure Jan. 13, the day before the session formally convened. It has not been heard before a committee since and has been criticized as unnecessary by House Leader Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes.
The bill may go before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week, in its final meeting of the session, but Lee has conceded “all of the common-sense gun legislation is going to be very difficult to pass procedurally.”
Other filed and idling firearms-related bills:
• HB 273: A “Constitutional Carry” measure filed by Rep. Anthony Sabatini, R-Howey-In-The-Hills, that would allow Floridians to carry concealed guns without applying for a concealed-weapons permit. It has not been heard, and there is not a Senate companion.
• HB 6001: A “Campus Carry” bill also filed by Sabatini that would prohibit state colleges and universities from banning those with concealed weapon permits from carrying firearms on school properties. It has not been heard, and there is not a Senate companion.
• HB 6003: Proposal to repeal the gun-control measures in 2018’s SB 7026 – filed by Rep. Mike Hill, R-Pensacola. It has not been heard, and there is not a Senate companion.
• HB 245/SB 398: Companion bills filed by Rep. Cindy Polo, D-Hialeah, and Sen. Lori Berman, D-Boynton Beach, that would add child care and day care operations to the places where concealed carry is banned. Neither has been heard in committee.
• HB 47/SB 114: Companion bills filed by Rep. Richard Stark, D-Weston, and Berman to expand those covered under risk protection orders, requiring law enforcement to remove firearms from an individual. Neither has been heard in committee.
• HB 451/SB 94: Companion bills filed by Rep. Margaret Good, D-Sarasota, and Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation, that would require all sales and transfers of firearms be subject to background checks. Neither has been heard in committee.
• HB 6009/SB 134: Companion bills filed by Rep. Dan Daley, D-Sunrise, and Sen. Annette Taddeo, D-Miami, that seek to repeal a 1987 preemption law that prohibits local governments from adopting gun regulations more restrictive than the state’s. Neither has been heard in committee.
• HB 117: Measure filed by Rep. Al Jacquet, D-Riviera Beach, that would require concealed weapon applicants to undergo a mental-health evaluation. It has not been heard in committee, and there is no Senate companion.
• HB 631/SB 266: Companion bills filed by Rep. Tina Polsky, D-Boca Raton, and Sen. Gary Farmer, D-Fort Lauderdale, that would require loaded firearms be secured with a trigger lock. Neither has been heard in committee.
• SB 310: A Sen. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, proposal to prohibit “ghost guns” that contain less than 4 ounces of metal. It has not been heard in committee, and there is no House companion.
• HB 289/SB 460: Named "Jaime’s Law" in memory of 14-year-old Jaime Guttenberg, who was among the 17 killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, these companion bills filed by Daley and Book would require background checks be conducted for ammunition sales. Neither has been heard in committee.
• HB 499/SB 718: Companion bills filed by Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, and Berman that would expand prohibitions on the sale or transfer of firearms to people convicted of domestic violence offenses. Neither has been heard in committee.
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