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Open carry, guns on campus bills pass FL Senate commitees

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A bill approved in the Florida Senate Tuesday would allow students with concealed weapons permit on college campuses

In the wake of high profile shootings across the nation, state senators approved three major gun bills Tuesday, exposing deep divisions within the state over how to shield Floridians from random violence.

On Tuesday the Criminal Justice committee passed a bill (SB 344) that revises the Stand Your Ground law and another that would allow those with concealed carry permits to openly carry in public.

"Each of these bills are actually targeted at specific issues that have happened recently", Evers said. Two-time rape victim Shayna Lopez-Rivas, who came to the Capitol to testify in support of the "campus carry" bill, told lawmakers she favors the "open carry" legislation, as well.

The bill now has to pass through two more senate committees before regular session begins in January.

But with the opening of the 2016 legislative session less than three months away, the gun bills appear to be gaining added momentum even in the usually more moderate Florida Senate, possibly fueled by election-year politics.

The Senate Criminal Justice Committee also voted for a proposal shifting the burden of proof in "state your ground" cases to the prosecution. She was at the hearing to oppose a Stand Your Ground bill. "These laws embolden individuals to settle their conflicts by reaching for their firearms instead of using their words. It needs common-sense gun laws".

The National Conference of State Legislatures says that 19 states had banned carrying a concealed weapon on campuses as of June 2015. That measure is sponsored by Sen. "Some people don't like guns". I'm OK with that. "Get a can of wasp spray if it works for you". "We don't need George Zimmermans walking around with firearms exposed", said Javier Ortiz of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police. There are a lot of law-abiding citizens out there, but unfortunately, there are some people that shouldn't have firearms. "You are tying the hands of law enforcement, and you are putting our communities at stake".

Stand your ground was famously cited in jury instructions following the 2012 shooting death in Central Florida of black teenager Trayvon Martin by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. Jordan Davis, 17, was shot and killed at a Jacksonville gas station in 2012 and the shooter claimed self-defense but was later found guilty.

"We shot one target and that was it", Joyner said of her training, "and I could barely hold a gun".

But opponents - including police chiefs, college and university presidents, professors and students - said that argument isn't sound.

Bill sponsor Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, said he doesn't see the proposal as expanding "stand your ground". The current statute requires the defendant to prove those claims before a judge in order to avoid trial.

"I believe that only those who have a concealed carry license should be allowed to bring a weapon on campus", he said. "None of them do".

 

Of the remaining people surveyed, 7 percent consider Florida "too restrictive" and the other 3 percent provided no opinion during the survey, which was conducted from July 30 to August 16.

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