Florida gun legislation on back burner

House committee votes unanimously to close loophole


TALLAHASSEE – Patients who have been determined to be a danger to themselves or others would be prohibited from buying a gun under legislation that cleared a House committee in Tallahassee on Tuesday.

Under current law, a person could voluntarily commit themselves and retain the right to own a gun.

It is one more than a half dozen gun bills getting little attention in Tallahassee.

More than 90,000 Floridians with mental illness are in a database that prohibits them from buying a firearm, but 10 times that many may have used a loophole, voluntarily committing themselves after being found a danger to themselves or others, and keeping their ability to own a gun.

A House committee voted unanimously to close the loophole.

"We uncovered after the act is that there is some varying degree of mental wellness issues going on with the perpetrators," said Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg.

The action comes a day after Florida narrowly averted a crisis on the campus of the University of Central Florida. An armed student took his own life after a planned massacre was thwarted.

Related: Police: UCF student plotted an attack

Senate President Don Gaetz says the incident calls for more attention to mental health.

"I think it just emphasizes that you can't legislate against crazy and that we really need to do as much as we can to make sure that mental health is taken into account," said Gaetz.

Guns are already prohibited on college and school campuses. Nothing has passed here yet, but it is still early and bills are alive that would put guns on college campuses and in the hands of teachers.

State Rep. Dennis Baxley says the UCF incident is one more reason to ease the gun-free zones.

"We have to face the reality that in our zeal to protect people with gun-free zones," said Rep. Baxley, R-Ocala. "We have also inadvertently created a sterile environment for mad man to target."

Other pending legislation would require background checks on all gun sales.

Under the current law, background check is not required when guns are bought and sold between individuals or at the gun show.