Florida House passes bill to expand gun rights in churches

Florida House passes bill to expand gun rights in churches

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida House passed a measure Thursday that would expand the rights of Floridians to carry concealed weapons on the grounds of religious institutions. The measure, HB 259 , seeks to close what gun rights advocates say is a loophole in state law. Because it is a crime to possess a firearm on school property, some gun owners could face prosecution if they carry a weapon to a religious institution where a school is located, the bill’s proponents argue. The measure would make it legal to take a weapon to a place of worship even if it’s also the grounds of a school. Under the law, religious institutions can continue to ban weapons from their premises if they wish. “I consider this more of a glitch bill,” Rep. Jayer Williamson, R-Pace, said Thursday. Opponents, however — including most Democrats in the chamber — said the bill was about bringing guns into the classroom. Michael Sheedy, executive director of the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, argued earlier this month in a House committee that the bill would give teachers at religious schools too much leeway to carry concealed weapons to school if they wished. In the wake of the Parkland school shooting, the Florida Legislature passed a bill in 2019 that allowed teachers to carry weapons in schools after they received training as part of a “Guardian program.” But Sheedy noted that it is easier for a teacher to get a regular concealed carry permit than it is […]

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