Editorials

Legislative gun bills are being shot down

State Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla refused to let campus-carry legislation get a committee hearing.
State Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla refused to let campus-carry legislation get a committee hearing. AP

Thankfully, Florida lawmakers, just weeks into the 2016 legislative session, have already shot down two gun-related bills that would have added practically nothing to Floridians’ safety and security. Good for them — and great for the rest of us.

Now they need to step up and bury legislation that remains alive.

Among the bills that had been up for discussion was the controversial legislation that would have allowed higher-ed students at public schools — from Miami Dade College to Pensacola Junior College — to carry firearms on campus.

The altruistic explanation of the need of this bill rested on this scenario: If a shooter stormed into a campus and began picking off students and staff, there would at least be someone else armed on campus who could take the shooter down before first responders arrive.

Right. Or it could be a bullet-whizzing shoot-a-thon in which students shoot other students and law enforcement doesn’t even know who the bad guy is. Here’s the more likely scenario: Students, drunk, mad, lovesick or hormonally volatile would settle their disputes and entanglements with a gun. Throw in anger at the professor for a C grade — and the potential for, say, a first-year student’s depression to take a tragic turn — and guns on campuses are not just a bad idea, but a dangerous one, too.

Opposed by college and university presidents, campus police chiefs, the League of Women Voters and anyone with an ounce of sense, the bill was a must-have priority for the National Rifle Association, Florida Carry and student groups that support allowing the more than 1.4 million people with concealed weapons permits in Florida to carry their weapons on public university and college campuses.

It didn’t matter that college and university administrators estimated they’d have to spend millions on increased security measures and police training if it became law.

Kudos to Miami Republican State Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, who effectively smothered the campus-carry bill sponsored by State Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker, and Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota.

He did it by simply refusing to schedule a hearing on the matter in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which he chairs. Without being vetted by the committee, the bill dies on the vine, of course, barring last-minute political finagling. Let’s avoid that.

The League of Women voters called Sen. Diaz de la Portilla’s maneuver “bold.” We would add that the bill never should have gotten as far as it did.

Also dead, for now, appears to be a bill that would make a Stand Your Ground defense easier. The bill places the burden of proof on the state instead of defendants claiming they needed to kill to defend themselves. Even though it moved forward on the Senate floor, a House panel had already voted against the bill, meaning it’s all but dead.

Still in play, however, is an open-carry bill. More than 40 states already allow residents to carry their guns out in the open, for all to see. But many of them also allow cities and counties to ban it. The proposed Florida law would supersede all local laws.

But open carry’s future, too, is tenuous after the Florida Sheriffs Association proposed an alternative that, instead of allowing the open display of firearms, would protect legal gun owners who inadvertently show their arms. Sen. Diaz de la Portilla has said he would consider it as an amendment to the open-carry law.

We have a better idea: In a state that wants to be seen as progressive, tourist friendly, business savvy and visionary, there’s no place for open carry. Shoot this one down, too.

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