Gun issues to get quick airing in Florida Senate

Headline Goes Here

State lawmakers next month will have their first chance to discuss a controversial measure that would expand how and where Florida's more than 1.67 million concealed-weapons license holders can carry handguns.

The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Greg Steube, is scheduled Jan. 10 to take up the measure (SB 140), which would allow people with concealed-weapons licenses to openly carry handguns in public and also would allow them to be armed on college and university campuses. Under the bill, they also could carry guns at airport passenger terminals; in elementary and secondary schools; and at legislative and local government meetings.

Steube is sponsoring the bill, which is matched in part by separate proposals in the House.

During the 2016 session, open-carry and campus-carry measures failed to advance through the Senate Judiciary Committee, which was chaired by former Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami. He lost a re-election bid in November.

The campus-carry proposal has been opposed by university and college leaders, campus law-enforcement officials and faculty members.

Also on the Jan. 10 agenda is a measure (SB 128) that would shift the burden of proof in "stand your ground" self-defense cases. The bill would shift the burden of proof to prosecutors during evidentiary hearings in such cases.

The bill stems from a Florida Supreme Court ruling in 2015 that said defendants have the burden of proof to show they should be shielded from prosecution under the "stand your ground" law. In "stand your ground" cases, pre-trial evidentiary hearings are held to determine whether defendants should be immune from prosecution.

The same proposal passed the Senate during the 2016 session but failed to get to the House floor.

News Service of Florida