Senate Judiciary Chairman Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, says a proposal allowing some gun-owners to openly carry handguns in Florida is "on life support" and he will decide this week whether to grant a hearing on it.
"I have some serious concerns about open carry in light of what happened in the House last week," Diaz de la Portilla told reporters this afternoon. "I am concerned that it may become a vehicle for some very, very bad amendments. I think that's what we learned last week. ... Because of those concerns, I'm very, very seriously considering not hearing it at all."
Legislation allowing more than 1.5 million concealed-weapons permit-holders in Florida to openly carry easily passed the state House last week, mostly along party-lines. An amendment was added to it during floor debate, which would allow lawmakers to carry concealed on the chamber floors and in official committee meetings. Those locations are among several so-called "gun-free" zones designated in state law, where even concealed weapons are prohibited.
When asked if lawmakers should be able to pack heat on the chamber floors, Diaz de la Portilla said: "I don't think that's necessary. I think FDLE does a terrific job in protecting us."
He has been deliberating for months on whether to hear the Senate's version of the open-carry bill (SB 300), which has been at a standstill before his committee since it passed its first Senate panel in October.
If Diaz de la Portilla doesn't grant it another hearing, it effectively kills the Senate bill -- all-but-guaranteeing it won't become law this session.
Drawing the ire of the National Rifle Association and other gun-rights groups, Diaz de la Portilla already made the call against hearing another controversial gun bill that also passed the House last week. That one would allow concealed weapons on public college and university campuses.
Photo credit: Kristen M. Clark / Herald/Times