Bill to OK lethal weapon carrying during emergencies goes to Governor

Stand your ground

A bill that allows unlicensed people to carry concealed weapons or firearms on their body or in the car during emergencies and evacuations has been sent to Rick Scott for review.

If approved by Scott, SB 290 would allow concealed weapons “while in the act of complying” with a mandatory evacuation order issued during a state of emergency declared by the governor, or declared by a local authority. Sponsored by Sen. Jeff Brandes, the bill defines “in the act of complying” as the immediate and urgent movement away from the evacuation zone within 48 hours of the evacuation order. It provides that the 48-hour period may be extended by order of the governor.

Florida law allows unlicensed people to carry concealed weapons so long as the weapons are used for defense and are either a chemical spray, a nonlethal stun gun, a dart-firing stun gun, or some other nonlethal electric weapon.

Carrying a concealed weapon without proper licensure currently is a third-degree felony.

Brandes filed a similar bill in 2014 but it did not pass for fear it would foster a vigilante-type situation with individuals grouped together with firearms during declared emergencies.

NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer this session sent out a plea to members asking them to email legislators in Tallahassee and support the bill.

“When you’re ordered under a mandatory evacuation to take your family, pets and important documents and leave your home and other belongings behind, you should not be deprived of the ability to protect yourself and your family,” Hammer wrote in her plea. “You should not be denied the right to take your firearms with you rather than leave them behind for looters. This bill is especially important for law-abiding people in a state that is prone to evacuations due to hurricanes. This bill is about your safety and the safety of your family.”

Scott has until May 22 to sign the bill into law, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature.

Christine Jordan Sexton

Tallahassee-based health care reporter who focuses on health care policy and the politics behind it. Medicaid, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and business and professional regulation are just a few of the things that keep me busy.


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