For months last year, the shooting of an unarmed black teenager put a spotlight on Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law and made the state the epicenter of the national debate on guns.
The Connecticut elementary school shooting in December intensified arguments over gun control and gun rights, leading even some gun-friendly lawmakers around the country to rethink their positions on the Second Amendment.
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Gun bills for lawmakers
Gun rights: Endorsed by the NRA, HM 545 would urge Congress and the president “to preserve the constitutional right to keep and bear arms.”
Gun regulations: Democrats have filed bills that would weaken or do away with current laws. Among them:
- Guns in public: HB 97, SB 374 would repeal law prohibiting local governments from banning firearms in public buildings or meetings and imposing fines on local officials who pass ordinances related to guns.
- Local control: SB 1018 would give counties and municipalities instead of the state the authority to regulate firearms.
- School safety: HB 325, HB 327 would require state sales and use taxes collected on firearms and ammo to be spent on the Safe Schools Trust Fund.
- Docs and Glocks: HB 4017, SB 314 would repeal law prohibiting doctors from asking patients about firearm ownership.
- Mental health: SB 1000 would create mental health “preventive assessments,” giving psychiatrists or psychologists the power to determine if someone is mentally unfit to possess a gun. Would lead to a 90-day suspension of a concealed weapons permit or restriction on purchasing a firearm.
Stand Your Ground bills:
- Neighborhood watch: SB 930 would require county sheriffs or police departments to issue guidelines regarding neighborhood watch programs that prohibit volunteers from confronting or trying to capture someone suspected of unlawful activity; would clarify that law enforcement is not restricted from fully investigating cases in which immunity may be claimed.
- Bystanders: HB 123, SB 362 would take away immunity from prosecution or civil lawsuits if a child or bystander is injured.
- Defending property: HB 331, SB 136 would eliminate provision allowing aggressors to later claim Stand Your Ground defense; would remove automatic immunity from prosecution and do away with the prohibition against detaining or arresting someone who claims the Stand Your Ground defense.
- Arrest: HB 799 would require immediate arrest and detainment of someone when a death occurs; would require Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate all Stand Your Ground cases; the person would be held until FDLE determines that deadly force was justified or charges are filed.
- Castles, not cars: HB 4009, SB 622 would repeal the law altogether and allow the use of deadly force in self-defense in homes or dwellings, including tents, but excluding cars.
Keeping watch on power
Florida lawmakers return to the Capitol on March 5, and The Palm Beach Post will be there. Look to our veteran reporters — John Kennedy and Dara Kam on state government and George Bennett on Palm Beach County politics – for in-depth coverage of the decisions that affect your communities, your businesses, your lives.
Post coverage wall to wall
Today we give you the outlooks for gun control and expanded health care in Florida – two issues that have torn the nation apart for the past few years.
Next week we will detail the goals of the governor and the state’s top legislative leaders.
Throughout the two-month session we’ll give you a weekly glimpse of the real people who are your lawmakers with a new Q&A feature in addition to daily in-depth coverage of what they are up to.
Of course, if daily is not often enough for you, rest assured you’ll continue to find the same up-to-the-moment coverage of important state events that we’ve always provided at PostonPolitics.com and on Twitter. Start now by following @gbennettpost, @dkpbpost and @JKennedyReport.