TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Just days after the Nashville school shooting, Florida lawmakers are set to vote on a controversial bill that would allow gun owners to carry without a permit.
Wednesday on the Florida Senate floor, the bill now named “Public Safety” is as controversial now as when it started.
It allows any lawful gun owner to carry concealed weapons in public permit-free, with exceptions in places like schools and police stations. Lawmakers also exempted their own meetings.
Millions of dollars for school security and safety programs are in the bill, too.
Since its filing in late February, opponents from around the state filled committee meetings concerned with lack of training and safety requirements, and an increasing number of guns in public places.
Protests got louder on the outside and included families and survivors of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Pulse Nightclub and other mass shootings.
Senate Democrats know the permitless carry supporters have the numbers, though their leader said Wednesday there is still plenty of time in the session to hit pause and make changes.
“I think it’s in poor taste to hear a bill like this two days after three 9-year-olds and three educators were killed in their school,” said State Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book, a Democrat from Broward County.
Democrats filed a series of amendments for safety measures they brought up on Wednesday, though with low expectations.
One, a political chess play, is an amendment to allow weapons into lawmakers’ meetings.
That amendment ultimately failed, as did the others.
The final vote on the bill looks like it will happen Thursday. There is little doubt that it will pass and ultimately head to the governor’s desk.