Florida Politics

Should police have to wait 3 days to buy a gun? House says ‘no’

Miami Democratic Rep. Robert Asencio, a retired Miami-Dade Public Schools police captain, co-sponsored a proposed constitutional amendment to exempt law enforcement officers from Florida’s mandatory three-day waiting period to buy handguns.
Miami Democratic Rep. Robert Asencio, a retired Miami-Dade Public Schools police captain, co-sponsored a proposed constitutional amendment to exempt law enforcement officers from Florida’s mandatory three-day waiting period to buy handguns. TAMPA BAY TIMES

The Florida House, by a near-unanimous vote, agreed Wednesday morning to send a constitutional amendment to voters in 2018 that would exempt law enforcement officers from Florida’s mandatory three-day waiting period for purchasing handguns.

But despite the favorable outcome, the measure isn’t likely to be put on next year’s ballot because the Senate companion measures were not heard in that chamber’s committees. The Senate would have to make the rare move of taking up the House proposals straight on the floor before Friday.

The House legislation (HJR 291 and HB 673) — a resolution putting the measure on the ballot and a bill to implement it — were a bipartisan effort between Reps. Don Hahnfeldt, R-The Villages, and Robert Asencio, D-Miami.

The state’s 1.7 million concealed weapons permit-holders do not have to wait for a handgun, so the measure would add law enforcement to that exemption.

House Democrats said in a statement the amendment would “recognize the hours of training and practice that police officers must do to become proficient with their firearm. These officers should be given the same rights that concealed weapons permit-holders are given, as these officers are trained how to properly use a firearm.”

Asencio, a retired police captain for Miami-Dade Public Schools, said his and Hahnfeldt’s proposal “will help protect Floridians in every town, city, and county by making sure our tax dollars are being properly spent to ensure officers are properly equipped to fight crime and keep our communities safe. It is commonsense measures like these that continue to move our state forward.”

The bills were the first Asencio introduced in the House after he was elected in November. Asencio said he’ll file the legislation again next year; if lawmakers approve them in the 2018 session, the amendment could still be added to that year’s ballot.

On Wednesday, the resolution bill passed the House 115-1, with the only opponent being Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando. A minute later, the implementing legislation passed unanimously, 117-0.

Ocala Republican Sen. Dennis Baxley was the sponsor of the Senate companions (SJR 910 and SB 912), which were scheduled to be heard in Judiciary on the first day of session in March but consideration was postponed. The bills weren’t put on the committee's agendas after that.

This story has been updated to clarify the legislation was the first Asencio introduced in the House, not the first bills of his to pass.

Kristen M. Clark: 850-222-3095, kclark@miamiherald.com, @ByKristenMClark

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