Weapons Without Borders: Florida Lawmaker Seeks to Legalize Unlicensed Concealed Weapon Carry During Mandatory Evacuations (SB 290)

For the second consecutive year, Florida State Senator Jeff Brandes (R – St. Petersburg), has filed legislation that would legalize the unlicensed carrying of concealed weapons during a state of emergency, where the Governor or local authority has issued a mandatory evacuation order.

Senator Brandes was unable to be reached for comment on SB 290, but it’s clear that he is interested in advancing his constituents’ ability to protect themselves.

His empathy is commendable, but unfortunately misplaced.  Bad stuff doesn’t happen in Florida anymore.

Florida hasn’t been hit by a hurricane since 2005, so nobody worries about them anymore.  Overall violent crime in the state has gone down 60 percent since 1993, meaning that most people don’t even lock their doors.

The major effects of climate change are a century away – and in support of the recent legalization of gay marriage – Texas Governor Rick Perry and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie started courting Florida Governor Rick Scott for his affections at this month’s gubernatorial inauguration.

Life is good!

In other words, there is no conceivable reason to preemptively apply for and receive a concealed weapons license to protect oneself in the event that Florida falls victim to a natural disaster or manmade catastrophe.

Gun hating liberals and soy eaters would have you believe that this justifies getting rid of guns altogether.  Why have guns if the world is a totally non-chaotic and equally resource distributed place to live?

I’ll tell you why.  Because this is America, and you fucking can.

I tease.  But frankly, a gun in the hands of a properly trained and responsible individual can be fun.  There are few thrills like plinking leaves floating downstream, or blowing the balls off of the bear you drew on the mattress somebody left at the unofficial quarry “dump.”

Pumpkins gone rotten several months after Halloween deserve to die in the glory that only a 12 gauge with 00 buckshot can provide.  And when that deer looks at me funny, he’s coming home to feed my family for the next month.

Guns have a place in this country, but I think we all agree that it’s not in the hands of lunatics, criminals, and small children.

So maybe there is some common ground we can find with the organic cotton wearing pansies who buy their meat at Whole Foods, if they eat meat at all.  I mean, a lot of them wear spandex when they ride bikes, but one of them did jump my battery when it died after rocking out too long to Skynyrd at the boat ramp.

Apparently, if you are 21 years of age and not a felon (or other violent offender), you’re going to get your license.  The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) is responsible for issuing concealed weapons licenses.   If you meet those criteria, don’t suffer from mental or physical infirmaries that would prevent the safe operation of a weapon, and aren’t addicted to drugs, you’re probably golden.

You do have to demonstrate competence with a firearm – such as by having taken a hunter’s ed course – but I say that’s a fair enough requirement.  You’ve seen that yahoo at the shooting range that looks down the barrel to check the jam, or talks with a pistol like some folks talk with their hands.  Evidently, that guy’s daddy didn’t teach him to respect a firearm.  For my sake and yours, someone probably ought to before he waltzes into church with one strapped to his person.

At last count, nearly 1.4 million people have been issued concealed weapons licenses in Florida.  It costs up to $70, and you have to get fingerprinted and have a background check.  But it’s good for 7 years.

DACS gets 90 days to affirm or deny an application.  But even if an emergency did hit during that timeframe, there is another way.  According to s. 790.251, F.S., the “Preservation and Protection of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms in Motor Vehicles Act of 2008,” you can keep your gun and your ammunition locked up in your car.

Remember, the point of SB 290 was to expand your right to carry unlicensed only during times of mandatory evacuation.  Unless you’re walking away from that flood, you’re probably already covered.

I reached out to the Florida Sheriffs Association to get its take on the bill.  It hasn’t yet taken a position, but is “looking closely…to decide where we stand and what is in the best interest of public safety.”  If I were a betting lady, I’d hedge that the Association isn’t the bill’s biggest fan.  After all, SB 290 rather directly conflicts with s. 870.044, F.S., which states that when a sheriff has declared a local state of emergency as result of a clear and present danger to the public, the intentional possession of a firearm by a civilian in public is illegal.

This isn’t a call to arms against responsible gun ownership.  But as for the person who says, “hmmm…there’s a hurricane coming, the river’s flooding over, and frogs are falling from the sky…meh, I’m staying,” yeah, that person needs to be checked out.

We’re talking guns here, and foresight should count for something.


Follow me on Twitter at Patience Burke@TameTheGorilla.

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