First Hurdle Cleared to Concealed Weapons Law

Floridians with concealed-weapons permits are one step closer to being able to carry a concealed weapon openly in public.

Tuesday, the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee passed the bill with an 8-4 vote despite critics.

“When I am out at Starbucks and there’s a cop there with his gun, it’s intimidating and it’s scary, I do not want to walk around when I walk my dogs and know that someone’s carrying a gun out there. … I don’t want my kids raised in a world here we’re being less civilized,” Shawn Bartelt a mother of two told the Miami Herald.

For 20 years, Florida has prohibited the open carrying of firearms but pressure from gun-rights lobbyists has brought about change.

Republican Matt Gaetz of Fort Walton Beach said that the bill “restores and vindicates” and promotes public safety.

“While we will certainly hear from shrill voices on the left that open carry will lead to the wild, wild west, that is not borne out any of the data we have,” Gaetz told the Miami Herald.

Statistics from 2012 show a decrease of gun related crimes in states with open-carry laws.

A separate proposal has also come to light, which focuses on whether or not to allow concealed weapons on college campuses.

Gov. Rick Scott said Tuesday that while he supports the Second Amendment he would have to look at the gun proposals before forming an opinion.

“I like to see Florida on the list of states that enhances people’s rights and makes people stronger, not on the list of states that restricts the choices and the rights of our citizens,” Gaetz said.