(The Center Square) – With the pre-filing period for bills ahead of Florida's 2021 legislative session beginning this week, two controversial firearms-related bills already have been filed.
Rep. Anthony Sabatini, R-Howey-in-the-Hills, filed a “campus carry” bill that would allow gun owners with a concealed firearm license to carry a weapon onto Florida colleges and universities.
Sabatini’s House Bill 6001 is similar to campus carry bills he filed in 2019 and 2020 that did not receive committee hearings.
The bill would delete a provision in state law that restricts permit holders from carrying a firearm on university and college campuses. It would go into effect July 1, 2021.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), 10 states allow concealed weapons on college campuses.
With more than 2.19 million concealed weapons license holders, Florida is one of only four states with more than 1 million residents legally permitted to carry concealed weapons.
When he introduced the first iteration of the bill in 2019, Sabatini wrote on Facebook that legally licensed gun owners with conceal carry permits have a constitutional right to defend themselves, even on school campuses.
“How many mass shootings must we witness before we allow law-abiding citizens to defend themselves?” Sabatini wrote. “Why do we strip Florida citizens of their rights without a shred of evidence that doing so makes us safer?”
After filing his third version of the bill Monday, Sabatini tweeted, “The current prohibition of the concealed carry of a firearm makes campuses LESS safe and violates the spirit of the Second Amendment.”
Rep. Dan Daley, D-Coral Springs, also refiled a 2020 bill that would require the same background checks for firearms sales to be conducted for ammunition purchases.
The proposed measure, House Bill 25, is essentially Daley’s 2020 bill, which was named Jamie’s Law in memory of 14-year-old Jaime Guttenberg, who was among the 17 people murdered in the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.
Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation, filed a Senate companion to Daley’s bill in the last session. Neither received a committee hearing. No 2021 Senate companion bill had been filed through noon Tuesday.
“As a graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, nothing is more important to me than preventing another tragedy like what our community experienced from ever happening again,” Daley said Monday.
“Jaime’s Law is a huge step in the right direction towards ensuring that weapons and ammunition stay out of dangerous hands,” Daley said. “It’s also common sense and does not restrict the rights of legal gun owners. If someone walks into a bar and orders a beer, a bartender is required by law to ask for their ID. Why isn’t a vendor required by law to ensure someone seeking to purchase ammunition is legally allowed to do so?”
More than 100 gun control bills and dozens of gun rights bills were introduced by Florida lawmakers before the 2020 legislative session.
None were adopted, and two advanced to committees.
Senate Bill 7028, sponsored by former Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, proposed to create a record-keeping system for private gun sales and set aside $5 million to establish a “statewide strategy for violence prevention.” SB 7028 passed the Senate Infrastructure & Security Committee but died in the chamber’s Judiciary Committee.
House Bill 183, filed by former Rep. Mel Ponder, R-Destin, would have allowed elected members of governing bodies with concealed weapons permits to carry personal firearms at public meetings. HB 183 passed three committees before dying on second reading on the House floor.