Bill to allow guns in churches, synagogues, mosques advances in Florida Senate

Bill to allow guns in churches, synagogues, mosques advances in Florida Senate

Capital Bureau A Senate committee on Monday voted to expand gun rights to allow a concealed weapon license holder to carry a firearm into a church, mosque or synagogue where there is also a school. Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, guided a revived version of last legislative session’s "bibles and bullets" bill through the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 7-4 party-line vote. He described his " Safety of Religious Institutions " bill ( SB 498 ) as a simple clarification of the state’s current prohibition of guns on school campuses. This year’s measure waives it for campuses where a school is attached to a house of worship or on the same property. He framed the prohibition as at odds with constitutional rights. "To me, it’s about the First Amendment. It’s about private property rights. It’s about religion and people’s ability to defend and protect their church," Gruters said after representatives of the Florida League of Women Voters, the Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, and Florida NOW had spoken against the bill. Gruters and proponents argue the waiver is justified because of an increase in mass shootings at churches and synagogues since 2015. A Washington Post database of mass shootings found that of the 88 people killed in mass shootings at places of worship since 1966, defined as incidents in which four or more people were killed, 47 occurred in the last six years. Gruters and others argued the current law denies worshipers the right to defend themselves. That’s a […]

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