TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Gun-related issues for the 2018 session could be firing blanks in the Republican-dominated Florida Legislature.
The 60-day regular session still won't start for a little under two months. But Senate Judiciary Chairman Greg Steube said Tuesday that “at this time” he doesn't plan to file two gun bills that have been among the more-controversial issues in recent sessions.
One of those proposals would allow people with concealed-weapons licenses to carry guns on university and college campuses. The other proposal would allow license-holders to openly carry handguns.
Steube, a prominent gun-rights supporter, made the comments Tuesday after his committee postponed two other firearm-related measures.
One of the postponed measures (SB 274) would allow people with concealed-weapons licenses to carry guns at private schools that are on the same property as religious institutions. Other than law-enforcement officers, people are now barred from carrying guns at schools.
The second postponed bill (SB 148) would reduce penalties for people who inadvertently allow legally carried guns to be openly displayed.
Last week, the Judiciary Committee postponed a measure (SB 134) that would have allowed people with concealed-weapons licenses to store firearms with security officers at courthouses. Current law prevents people from carrying guns into courthouses.
Steube, a Sarasota Republican who is pushing for the “courthouse carry” measure and the bill to reduce penalties people who inadvertently display guns, refused to say that any of the proposals are dead before the legislative session begins Jan. 9.
“I have full intention to put them back up, and hopefully we'll get to a point where we'll do an up or down vote,” he said.
Asked if gun-related measures are in trouble for the 2018 session, National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer said she never makes predictions.
"There's an old saying, `It ain't over 'til it's over.' " Hammer said in an email. “And we haven't even started."
Steube words echoed his refrains from much of the 2017 session when a pair of South Florida Republican members of his committee joined with Democrats on gun-related issues, effectively blocking contentious bills.
“Obviously we had challenges getting it through committee last (session), so we'll just have to wait and see,” Steube said Tuesday.
The committee is expected to next meet on Dec. 5 during a final week of committee meetings before the session.
In the 2017 session, the Senate approved the courthouse-carry proposal in a 19-15 vote. But the House did not take it up, noting that other bills backed by Second Amendment advocates failed to get approved by the Senate.
Florida had issued more than 1.8 million concealed-weapons licenses as of Oct. 31, according to the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which oversees the program.
News Service of Florida