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Tucson shooting, AK 47 mishap at FSU don't slow NRA in FL


In the aftermath of Tucson's shooting rampage, lawmakers in Florida are ready to make their stand on guns clearer: They want more people to have the right to carry them in the open and fewer government restrictions.

All told, lawmakers have filed three separate bills that seek to restrict local governments from regulating firearms, stop doctors from even asking patients about them and that allow for licensed gun owners the right to wear firearms outside their clothing -- including on college campuses.

The bills were all drafted prior to last week's shooting in Arizona, and before a drunken Florida State University student in Tallahassee accidentally killed his girlfriend's twin sister with an AK-47 on campus.

Both tragedies loom over the legislation, but they probably won't halt the passage of any of the bills. Almost every year, a gun-rights measure passes Florida's Legislature.

"The gun lobby has a stranglehold on Tallahassee," said Rep. Ari Porth, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat and career prosecutor. "I ran for office to keep the public safe, and what we do in the Florida Legislature with guns isn't good for public safety."

But a majority of the Legislature, which is controlled by Republicans, don't see it that way. Many adhere to the maxim that if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.

"I don't think that there's any amount of gun control that would have stopped some of the tragic events that we've seen," said Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Fort Walton Beach Republican who's sponsoring legislation to clarify an old state law that bars local governments from regulating guns.

"It's unfortunate," he said, "that anytime there's a tragedy people come out of the woodwork with their agendas."

Everyone in the state Capitol has an agenda, though.

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