Florida House passes bill to allow guns on college campuses

Washington State Capitol Building

Washington Anti Gun Legislation Still Pending Executive Action in House Committee

The House also was scheduled to vote on a bill to allow licensed gun owners to openly carry their weapons.

The bill still must clear the Senate, where it is now stuck in committee.

The "open carry" legislation, House Bill 163, was approved 80-38.

For the second year in a row, Senate Judiciary Chairman Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, has said he will not hear a campus-carry bill at all. It now heads to the GOP-controlled Senate.

The idea to allow open carry in Florida was brought up previous year, but failed to pass. It would make Florida the 46th state allowing people to walk the streets with handguns displayed - not tucked into a purse, under a jacket or in a pocket.

Lawmakers would have to hide their weapons under the language.

"At this time we don't have additional funding for new incentives in this budget", said State Rep. Clay Ingram, R-Pensacola, who runs a subcommittee that has jurisdiction over job incentive funding.

But opponents argued the measure would hurt Florida's lucrative tourist industry, confuse law enforcement in tense situations and heighten the risk of violence for residents.

"We've become so inflexible on this issue", Rep. Jared Moskowitz, D-Coral Springs, said during Tuesday night's session.

He's also deeply concerned with the state's planned expansion of open carry.

Both are backed by the National Rifle Association, America's powerful gun lobby.

Indian River State College President Edwin Massey has said the bill is a risky move because it would put guns in an already high-stress environment.

But supporters said it was time for Florida to join a sizable majority of states.

He believes open carry will make violent crime rates go down. "I could ski with a gun on my hip".

The Association of Florida Colleges has expressed concern about this measure.

Two Republicans, Rep. Ray Pilon, of Sarasota, and Rep. Bill Hager, of Delray Beach, voted with Democrats against campus carry.

A survey last fall by University of South Florida researchers showed 73 percent of Floridians opposed the campus carry measure. "There is no corresponding right to go and occupy a gun-free zone".

Those findings suggest only a small minority support expanding where or how you can carry a gun.

Rehwinkel-Vasilinda is a member of the faculty at Tallahassee Community College.

The proposals come as President Barack Obama and others push to limit access to guns after a string of mass shootings.

Representative Matt Gaetz introduced the open carry bill.

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