Florida State Senator Jeff Brandes is hoping his bill passes this time around. Similar to his attempt last year, Brandes is looking to allow law-abiding citizens without concealed carry permits to carry firearms during declared mandatory evacuations in Florida.
Because open carry in Florida is largely prohibited, people who are required to evacuate the area may not legally bring their firearms with them during the emergency.
According to Senate Bill 290, people would be permitted to carry a concealed firearm during a mandatory evacuation order during a declared state of emergency. This means if they are able to lawfully possess a firearm, even without a permit, the person may carry that firearm.
Last year, the Florida Sheriffs Association pushed to restrict the circumstances under which evacuated people could carry concealed without a permit, and how long the exception would be allowed. The bill was withdrawn last year when lawmakers included a limit on the period of 24-hours or whenever an evacuee reached their destination, whichever came first.
Many of you may be familiar with the hurricanes and hurricane threats that hit the state each year. As of 2013, there have been 63 tropical or subtropical cyclones affected the state of Florida.
Marion Hammer is the founder of Unified Sportsmen of Florida and the National Rifle Association’s lobbyist in Florida. Hammer reported,
“In a hurricane prone state like Florida, this bill is a no-brainer. When families are ordered to evacuate their homes they must take their children, pets, and personal valuables and flee. They need to be able to take their guns with them for protection — it’s that simple. You have to seriously question the motives of anyone who opposes that.”
She added another valid point,
“Leaving your guns behind where they can be stolen by looters and gangs poses a greater danger to law enforcement, first responders and any military that may be called into the area.”
The new bill is set for an upcoming review in the current session.
Let’s not forget what happened in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Looting was wide-spread and anyone defenseless was a sitting duck. Not to mention any firearms that were left behind were now subject to theft.