Florida churches may no longer be gun-free zones

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Capitol News Service) - After two shooters claimed 35 lives in church shootings, Florida lawmakers want to make sure churches in Florida aren't gun free zones.

“We are faced with the unenviable decision of committing a third degree felony or allowing allowing our congregants to protect themselves,” Representative Ross Spano out of Tampa said.

“The vulnerability of our churches is something this bill is simply seeking to reduce," Representative Lawrence McClure out of Plant City said.

Moms Demand Action against Gun Violence called the legislation unnecessary.

“It’s trying to solve a problem that does not exist,” Member Beth DuMond said.

But committee members pushed back.

"I believe you said this tries to fix a problem that doesn’t exist and then you list a few churches where there have been mass shootings such as Charleston and Texas,” Representative Chris Latvala from Clearwater commented.

“This bill is strictly about restoring the private property rights of churches, synagogue’s and other religious institutions,” Marion Hammer from the Unified Sportsmen of Florida said.

In the end, the legislation passed overwhelmingly. It only applies to churches that have either a daycare or operate a school.

Because churches and synagogue’s have the final say, this legislation is considered one of the few gun bills considered likely to pass before lawmakers go home in March.