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Proposed Pro-Gun Bill Will Permit Unlicensed Concealed Weapon Carrying During Times of Emergency: Is this Necessary or Could it Lead to More Violence?

Florida is known to be one of the most gun friendly states in the nation, with a significant number of pro-gun laws and statutes being passed by the Florida Legislature in the last few years. Gov. Rick Scott, since taking office in 2011, has signed into effect 12 gun-related laws that were backed by the National Rifle Association (NRA). Scott’s 12 gun-related measures amount to nine more than former Gov. Charlie Crist; furthermore, Former Gov. Jeb Bush, who was in office for 8 years, signed into law 14 pro-gun related legislation, including Stand Your Ground.

Senate Bill 290

The most recent step toward expanding gun rights has been the resurrection of a previously shot down bill in the Senate, which, after some modifications, looks like its being prepared to be signed into law sooner than later. Senate Bill 290 will provide a criminal exemption to concealed weapons licenses and permits during times of emergency and emergency evacuation.

New Modifications of an Old Bill

The newly modified law has included a time frame of 48 hours and requires that those who are carrying concealed weapons without a permit are only permitted if they are in the process of evacuating. The purpose of this bill is thought to provide more adequate protection for those who are caught in the middle of an emergency. More specifically the bill is thought to ensure that looters and those taking advantage of the perilous situation like a hurricane would be unable to have access to guns left in the homes of those who have evacuated.

Opponents of the Bill

The opponents of the NRA-backed measure are scratching their head at the necessity of keeping looters from guns left in evacuated homes. Many opponents believe that more weapons on the road or during an evacuation could lead to more violence as many might take on the roles of “vigilantes” especially when police officers are not present. There are also issues with regards to shelters that prohibit guns.

Concealed Weapon Licenses in Florida

This bill already exacerbates an already-growing problem in Florida regarding high gun violence rates. Florida has the most number of citizens with the licenses to carry a concealed weapon – about 1.3 million carriers. The concealed weapon license (CWL) in Florida is regulated by the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, rather than any law enforcement agency. Florida requires very little discretion when issuing concealed weapon licenses in the state; the state may not issue a concealed weapon permit to anyone if they are not of age, have a criminal conviction or a mental illness.

Will the Bill Protect or Harm the State of Florida?

The question is whether the bill is protecting or harming more people in circumstances of natural disasters. To be passed, it must be shown that the fear that looters may get their hands on guns left in evacuated homes during a natural disaster outweighs the dangers that comes from permitting unlicensed gun owners to tote their guns around during times of an emergency evacuation.

Who Have Received Concealed Weapon Permits?

According to the Palm Beach Post, which was quoting the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, of all of those who received concealed weapon permits in the first six months of 2006, 216 license holders were named on active arrest warrants, 128 license holders had a protective order or restraining order filed against them for domestic violence, and 1,400 of these license holders had pled guilty (or no-contest) to felony charges brought against them.

Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Lauderdale

Ultimately, with the passage of the bill and passage of time, it will be seen whether this law actually creates more violence and, on extension, lands more citizens in court for criminal proceedings due to violent circumstances. The nature of emergencies implies that there is disorder and chaos, and as a result, a normally law-abiding citizen might find themselves in a bad situation. During these times, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal Fort Lauderdale defense attorney like Kevin J. Kulik who can advocate on your behalf and put up the strongest defense. Contact the Law Offices of Kevin J. Kulik for a free and confidential consultation.

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