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Gun Measures Expected To Re-Emerge In 2017 Legislature Session

Jun 16, 2016
Originally published on June 16, 2016 8:32 am

The mass shootings in an Orlando nightclub this week have fueled the already-polarizing issues of gun rights and gun control, with the debate expected to return on multiple fronts during Florida's 2017 legislative session.

Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday called for a special session to halt gun sales to people on federal watch lists and to impose new requirements for becoming a security guard. Republican legislative leaders say a special session isn't needed.

Instead, lawmakers next spring are expected to revisit measures that failed during the 2016 session, such as proposals to allow people with concealed-weapons licenses to openly carry handguns in most public places and to be able to bring their side arms onto university and college campuses.

Lawmakers also could consider eliminating "gun-free zones," which are places, including nightclubs, where people with concealed-weapons licenses are not allowed to tote weapons.

"Time and time again, we've seen that gun-free zones don't protect anybody but the terrorist," said state Rep. Greg Steube, a Sarasota Republican who has played a leading role in supporting gun-rights legislation. "There is nothing you can do if you're on the inside, and you have no firearm in which to engage a shooter, but hide behind a desk or hide behind wherever and wait until the police arrive. And I don't believe that should be the public policy of the state of Florida."

Such proposals in the past would have exempted courthouses and businesses, such as Disney World, where people have to go through security checkpoints.

"You know that no one is walking in with a gun because there is security and a metal detector," said Steube, who is running for the Senate this year.