Gun legislation proposed by Tampa Bay senator causing controversy

Gun legislation that will be discussed in Tallahassee beginning Monday, February 20 was proposed by Tampa's Jay Collins, and it's caused controversy to swirl in the state capitol as Florida reflected on the fifth anniversary of the Parkland school shooting last week.

In SB 150 filed on February 9, the freshman senator merged the controversial permitless carry bill with school safety measures, calling it a public safety package. 

Like the house policy, this new bill still allows Floridians to carry concealed weapons without the currently needed permit or training. But, it also aims to improve threat sharing between schools, is pushing for firearm K-9s, and requires law enforcement to have active shooter response policies with annual training.

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 "We have a God-given and constitutional right to defend our families," Sen. Collins said in a press conference.

But Democrats aren't impressed. Members suggest the GOP supermajority is playing politics, trying to make the gun policy more appealing to the Legislature and public by wrapping it in broadly supported school safety upgrades.

 "It’s not just insulting… it’s also tone-deaf. Right?" said Democratic House Minority Leader Fentrice Dirskell. "Most Floridians and most Americans want common-sense gun laws. They want universal background checks. They want to make sure that weapons don’t wind up in the hands of people who should not have them."

 Approving permitless carry is a major GOP goal for 2023. Gov. Ron Desantis promoted the idea last April, vowing to make the law a reality before leaving office.

 The bill will be discussed by the Senate Criminal Justice Committee at 3 pm. Tuesday, the house version of the bill will be aired by the House Judiciary Committee at 8 am.