FLORIDA – Bill allowing guns in churches heads to Governor for signature

Senator Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota: “The bill closes a “loophole.”

LAWMAKERS GIVE BOOST TO GUNS AT CHURCH

TALLAHASSEE — A proposal that would let people with concealed-weapons licenses pack heat at churches or other religious institutions that share properties with schools is heading to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The Republican-controlled Senate on Tuesday voted 24-16 along party lines to give final approval to the measure (HB 259), which passed the House last month. DeSantis’ office did not immediately reply to a question about whether the governor will sign the bill.

Florida law generally allows people to carry concealed weapons at churches, synagogues, mosques and other religious institutions, but it bars being armed on school properties. That leads to people being prevented from carrying guns on properties shared by religious institutions and schools.

Senate sponsor Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, said the bill closes a “loophole.”

“This is about safety,” Gruters said. “We saw what happened in Texas when a church, unfortunately, was the target. Six seconds it took them to secure that location. This gives schools the needed safety they need. It gives churches the additional security that they need. This gives the property owners the ultimate responsibility to make the decision that’s best for them.”

Florida Lawmakers View Christian Lives As Less Valuable

Christian lives and the lives of children who attend private schools have been viewed as less valuable by the 2019 Florida Legislature.

If you attend services at a church, worship center, ministry or synagogue that has a licensed school on its property or your child attends any private school in the state of Florida, the Florida legislature as twice determined that your life and the lives of your children are less valuable than the lives of children who attend public schools.

During the Florida 2019 legislation session there were two bills submitted by legislators for consideration the would allow those who attend services at churches, synagogues and other houses of worship to protect themselves against an armed assailant. Those bills were Senate Bill 1238 (SB 1238), introduced by Senator Debbie Mayfield and House Bill 403 (HB 403) introduced by Erin Grall and Cord Byrd titled: Safety of Religious Institutions.

Both bills passed through their respective committees with little to no opposition, receiving bipartisan support. However, in the Senate, after receiving 4-Yeas and 2-Nays, on March 25th the bill was sent to Criminal Justice Committee, on April 8th, SB 1238 was “Temporarily Postponed”. I the Criminal Justice Committee, on May 5th, SB 1238 was “Indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration“.

On April 25th, House Bill 403 passed its third reading with a vote of 79 – Yeas and 35 – Nays. HB 403 was then sent to the Senate Judiciary Rules Committee where it sat without action. With the close of the 2019 Florida Legislative Session HB 403 was “Indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration” on May 3, 2019. The Safety of Religious Institutions bill is dead.

It can only be concluded that the Florida Legislature views the lives of those who attend worship services and private schools as less valuable than those who attend and work at public schools, as this has been the second year in a row the Florida Legislature has neglected the safety of students who attend private schools and those who worship on the grounds that share a Florida licensed educational institution.

Those who attend worship services on the grounds that share a Florida licensed educational institution or attend private schools are left to the mercy of the wolves, without a means of self-defense by Florida lawmakers.

In Florida, when licensed, one can legally carry a concealed firearm . . .

  • when going to the country club
  • when going to watch a movie in a public theater
  • when attending a play or other performance
  • when going to a city park
  • when going to the beach
  • when grocery shopping
  • when going to the mall
  • when banking
  • when dinning at your favorite restaurant

But, not when attending your church, ministry, synagogue or other place of worship, if there is a school located on the property.

In recent months, weeks and even days, agencies responsible for public safety are issuing warnings to increase security at places of worship.


Is there not a mixed message here?

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