August 07, 2015

Steube, Evers file bills allowing concealed carry on college campuses


Controversial bills that would arm some people with concealed guns on college and school campuses will be back before the Legislature in 2016.

The two bills failed to pass the House and Senate in 2015.

One (SB 68, HB 4001), introduced by Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker, and Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, would allow anyone with a concealed carry license from the state to bring their guns with them on college campuses. Right now, it’s illegal to have a gun on any state college or university property.

The other (SB 72), by Evers, would give school districts the power to arm one employee or volunteer in each school. The individual would have to be a member of the military, a veteran or a current or retired law enforcement officer.

Both National Rifle Association-backed bills died in the Senate last year after committee chairs refused to schedule them for a vote. Evers said he’ll keep trying to pass them until he succeeds.

“A person should be able to exercise their Second Amendment right for their self protection of themselves as well as those around them,” he said. “It’s not even safe to go to a movie theater anymore. I think that’s more of a call for folks having self protection.”

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June 29, 2015

Jeb Bush spoke on guns, religion and the flag in South Carolina

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush met privately with pastors in Charleston today and then toured Nephron Pharmaceutical Company in West Columbia, South Carolina, where he took questions from employees.

During the question and answer, Bush addressed a broad range of topics including immigration reform, gun control, the Confederate flag and foreign policy.

When speaking about education, Bush brought up his call for immigration reform without mentioning anything about a path to citizenship.

Instead, he linked immigration to growing jobs:

“A lot of students would love to come here and stay here and contribute to our society and be able to create opportunities for others that do embrace the technologies and STEM-related fields. It's not a zero sum game. The more we can grow our economy the more opportunity that will exist for more people.”

Bush reiterated his support for gun rights about two weeks after the shooting at the Charleston church that left nine people dead. He noted that Florida has about 1.3 million concealed weapon permits.

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June 16, 2015

$1 million tax cut for gun club members included in legislative package


For pro-gun Republicans in the Florida Legislature, passing a slew of tax cuts this week also meant standing up for their 2nd Amendment rights.

That is because among the more than $400 million in tax cuts sent to the governor on Monday is one that would bar the state from collecting sales tax revenue on gun club memberships. It amounts to a $1 million tax cut for gun club members in Florida.

"The Department of Revenue has been in error charging a tax on peoples' membership in a gun club," state Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, said right after the Florida House voted overwhelming to send the bill to the governor.

Gaetz is not alone in that thinking. The NRA's longtime Florida lobbyist Marion Hammer has been making the same case for years, insisting that the state Department of Revenue has long been violating state law. Florida law states that "except as expressly provided by the state Constitution or general law, the Legislature hereby declares that it is occupying the whole field of regulation of firearms and ammunition." To the NRA and Hammer, that means gun memberships are exempt from state sales taxes unless the legislators pass a bill to state otherwise.

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April 23, 2015

Backyard gun range ban finds new life

After a House committee in March killed a bill to limit shooting rights on residential property, the full House revived it Thursday by tacking it onto another piece of legislation.

The original bill was filed by Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, after a local man started constructing a gun range in his yard, much to the dismay of his neighbors.

Currently, it’s legal in Florida to shoot a gun on residential property unless it’s done “recklessly or negligently.” Gun rights activists have said this is sufficient to cover any dangerous gun activity.

Despite loud opposition from the National Rifle Association, the amendment, sponsored by Rep. Jay Trumbull, R-Panama City, passed easily Thursday in the House.

In debate, Rouson said he was thankful the ban on what have been called backyard gun ranges could possibly be passed into law.

“This bill will take care of those types of situations,” he said. “It’s about public safety, and I’m so grateful that the NRA and Police Chiefs Association have worked together to make this a good product.”

The amendment makes shooting in residential areas — including for target practice or in celebration — is a first-degree misdemeanor unless it’s for defense or “does not pose a reasonably foreseeable risk to life, safety or property.”

But even that language required bringing people together who had taken opposing stands in the original committee hearing in March. Among them, Marion Hammer, the NRA’s lobbyist in Tallahassee, whose big personality Rep. Ray Pilon, R-Sarasota, referred to on the floor.

“(Trumbull) did something in this session we thought would never ever get done,” Pilon said, “in bringing all the stakeholders together, especially one lady we all know.”

September 18, 2014

NRA endorses Rick Scott

From a press release:

Fairfax, Va. – On behalf of our five million members across the country, the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) is proud to endorse Rick Scott for reelection as Governor of Florida.

Based on his leadership on Second Amendment issues, Governor Scott has earned an “A+” rating from the NRA-PVF in the 2014 general election. An “A+” is the highest possible rating and is reserved for elected officials with an excellent public record on critical NRA issues who have also made a vigorous effort to promote and defend the Second Amendment.

“Rick Scott has an unmatched record of support for the Second Amendment in Florida,” said Chris W. Cox, chairman of the NRA-PVF. “Rick has signed more pro-gun bills into law in one term than any other governor in Florida history. Law-abiding gun owners in Florida have a true friend in Rick Scott.”

In addition to the many bills Governor Scott personally signed into law, he also supports Florida’s “Castle Doctrine” law and the hard-fought parking lot law. He respects and supports Florida’s unique hunting heritage and recognizes it is a valuable tool for wildlife management and conservation. Governor Scott rejects expanded licensing and registration schemes, and so-called “universal background checks.”

“We can continue to count on Rick Scott to stand up for our constitutional freedoms in Florida,” added Cox. “On behalf of the NRA’s five million members, I want to thank Rick for his steadfast support of the Second Amendment and urge all NRA members, gun owners and sportsmen in Florida to vote Rick Scott for Governor on November 4.”


April 25, 2014 about Marco Rubio's NRA gun-rights rating, national press....


Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was invited by the National Rifle Association to speak Friday at its annual gala in Indianapolis along with other potential Republican candidates for governor.

No surprise there.

But this sentence in the Associated Press story about the event stands out: "Rubio opposed limiting gun rights after Sandy Hook, but he also saw his NRA grade drop from an A to a B+ amid criticism of his stance on some gun-rights legislation."

No qualms with the first half of that, but the second part is odd. And, national reporters who cover Rubio might want to know that it doesn't tell the full story about Rubio's positions or the NRA's system.

The national NRA only gives out grades to federal candidates in cycle. Wouldn't it be strange if it invited a senator who 1) pressed its agenda at the least of popular times (Sandy Hook) and 2) got docked a grade anyway?

The state NRA did, however, give Rubio a B+ in 2010, despite an otherwise A-rated gun-rights record.


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December 10, 2013

FL Appeals Court rules public colleges, universities can't regulate guns on campus


A Florida appeals court on Tuesday handed down a potentially far-reaching ruling that would block state universities from regulating guns on campus.

The 1st District Court of Appeal _ in a rare opinion decided by the entire appeals court _ sided with a University of North Florida student and a gun rights group that challenged a university rule that bans students on campus from storing guns in their cars.

In a lengthy decision that prompted a strong dissent as well as multiple concurring opinions the appeals court ruled that the Florida Legislature has pre-empted the regulation of guns by local governments and state agencies.

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August 09, 2013

On SYG, Democrats no match for Republican unity

Friday came and went without Democrats filing the necessary 32 letters, a first step state law requires from lawmakers for a special session on Florida’s stand your ground law.

They have until October to get the letters in, but the House Democratic Leader, Rep. Perry Thurston, D-Plantation, predicted last week that at least 32 letters would be filed at the Secretary of State’s office by now, enough to trigger a poll of the lawmakers to order a special session. (It's a longshot, with 96 lawmakers needed to agree to it).

Instead, according to Secretary of State spokesman Mark Ard, the department had received 28 letters, all Democrats.

They are:


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Florida Sheriffs Association: We back Stand Your Ground as written


Remember when we wrote that Florida Gov. Rick Scott was probably on safe political ground by backing  Stand Your Ground? Here's this Florida Sheriffs Association press release is more evidence:

FSA President, Sheriff Grady Judd, today announced, “The right to self-defense is well-established in law.  The Florida Sheriffs confirmed this position by voting unanimously, at the 2013 Florida Sheriffs Association Summer Conference, to support the Stand Your Ground law as it is currently written.  Our current judicial system is comprised of multiple checks and balances to ensure fair and equitable application of all laws, including Stand Your Ground.”

Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law:

"A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity, and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony."
F.S. §776.013(3)

August 08, 2013

Dream Defenders to launch massive voter registration drive

The Dream Defenders, who are marking Day 24 of their Capitol sit-in outside Gov. Rick Scott's office, announced they are launching a massive drive to register 61,550 voters by 2014 -- the margin Scott won by in the 2010 election. 

"We intend to register the people that are forgotten - the black, the brown, the indigent, the poor, the LGBT community and we will meet them where they are, in the classrooms, in the mall, at the club, on the corner, at the bus stop" said the Dream Defenders Executive Director Philip Agnew at a press conference Thursday.

He said the effort, which would enlist students on Florida campuses, would be geared toward issues, not candidates. "At the end of the day, we are not blue or red."

There's a need to "build power," Agnew said, so that "when the time comes again for us to move on issues like the school-to-prison pipeline, like racial profiling, like Stand Your Ground, we don't have to sit on the floor again."

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