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Politics / Issues
Get the latest coverage of the 2021 Florida legislative session in Tallahassee from our coverage partners and WUSF.

Florida Legislature Approves Guns In Churches Within School Grounds

A proposal to allow concealed carry permit holders have guns at religious institutions that share properties with schools is heading to Gov. Ron DeSantis.
A proposal to allow concealed carry permit holders have guns at religious institutions that share properties with schools is heading to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

It would allow people who have concealed weapons permits carry in churches that share properties with schools.

A Florida House bill that would allow guns in churches with schools attached is now on its way to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk. HB 259 will let people who have concealed weapons permits carry in churches that share properties with schools. Under current law, concealed weapons are allowed in churches but are prohibited from being brought onto school grounds.

Democrats have argued allowing more guns in places with soft targets doesn’t make people safer. “There was an FBI study of 160 active shooter incidents from 2000 to 2013, and they found that only one was stopped by an armed individual with a concealed weapons permit,” said Sen. Tina Polsky, D-Boca Raton, during debate on the Senate floor. “In contrast, 21 incidents were stopped by unarmed citizens.”

Polsky says she believes the problem lies with the number of guns people own. “I believe there are other ways to make those institutions safe, and we all know basically nowhere is safe, and that’s because there’s just too many guns in America,” Polsky said. “That’s the different between us and other countries. We have just as much mental illness as other countries; we have just as many violent people, but what do we have more than anyone else I think? Guns.”

Democratic senators also believe the bill goes against property law, potentially impacts current leasing agreements, and increases liability for property owners. “I don’t think this is going to survive,” Sen. Jason Pizzo, D-Miami, said of the bill. “I don’t think it survives a constitutional challenge at all.”

“This gives options to people. This is about safety,” said Senator Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, the Senate bill’s sponsor. “This gives the property owners the ultimate responsibility to make the decision that’s best for them.”

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