FILE - In this March 7, 2012 file photo, gun owners and supporters participate in an Illinois Gun Owners Lobby Day rally at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield. In a big victory for gun rights advocates, a federal appeals court on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012, struck down a ban on carrying concealed weapons in Illinois _ the only remaining state where carrying concealed weapons is entirely illegal. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)
TALLAHASSEE, Fla-- A new proposal could suspend concealed carry gun laws in Florida during mandatory evacuations. Law enforcement is concerned about opening the door for non-permitted citizens to carry around a gun.
Millions of gun owners could be forced to leave their guns at home in emergency evacuation situations if they don’t have a concealed carry permit. Representative Heather Fitzenhagen’s bill makes it easier for owners to take their guns with them if they’re forced to leave home.
“It merely allows you, if you’re in an emergency, to not have to comply with the necessity for the proper carriage of your weapon,” Fitzenhagen said.
That’s a problem for the Florida Sheriff’s Association. They worry that a state of emergency might be the worst time for a suspension of gun restrictions.
“Do the members of this committee want to extend a huge number of people the privilege of a concealed and loaded weapon at exactly the time they are least likely to use it in a responsible manner?” Electra Theodorides-Bustle, the Florida Sheriff’s Association Lobbyist, said.
Marion Hammer says the NRA believes the transport is covered under the 2nd amendment.
“This bill is about law abiding people being able to protect themselves and their families during a state of emergency. It is not about the convenience of law enforcement,” Hammer said.
There were concerns that this bill would allow anyone to walk down the street during an emergency carrying a gun.
“This language, without parameters that we’ve heard through discussion, creates a local militia,” Rep. Kionne McGhee said.
State Representative Kionne McGhee was the only “no” vote on the committee. The bill covers owners who are in the “act of evacuating,” something the law doesn’t clearly define.
Florida law allows a state of emergency to last no more than 60 days unless it is renewed by the governor, which raised concerns of how long exactly a person could carry their weapons around if the bill became a law.