Guns are an integral part of the fabric of American society, whether we like it or not. With deep roots in the second amendment and our country’s revolutionary origins, it is no surprise that there is a lot of gun love in America today. However, there is also a lot of fear and suspicion of those very same guns. This skepticism stems from America’s history of mass shootings (Sandy Hook, Aurora, Virginia Tech, and Columbine come to mind off the top of my head, not to mention countless others). Given the recent rash of shootings in the past month at schools around the nation, it is no surprise that open carry laws are incredibly controversial at the present time.
In the midst of this turmoil, Florida appears to be passing an extension of the infamous and NRA-backed “stand your ground law” that was hotly discussed after
the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. The fact that it is in Florida makes the situation more tumultuous.
On October 6th, a Florida House panel voted in favor of a bill (HB 163) that would allow those with a conceal carry license to openly carry their firearms in the state. The bill will now advance to other committees in anticipation of the January legislative session.
The bill’s sponsor, Florida State Representative Matt Gaetz, had this to say on the matter: “it is important to note that in the states that allow open carry, violent crime was 23 percent lower, the murder rate was 5 percent lower, the aggravated assault rate was 23 percent lower and robbery rates were 36 percent lower.”
Politifact decided to fact-check Gaetz’s claims, and found that open carry laws appear to be made safer, or at least not more dangerous, according to some data. However, they noted that the situation is incredibly complicated. Other people were also asked what they thought of Gaetz’s statements, and most believed that his one law would be too narrow to be solely responsible for so much change. Overall, his claims were rated “half true”.
So will this law pass? It is already facing scrutiny obviously, and it is also trying to exist in an environment where open carry laws are mostly unpopular on the national stage. Will politicians in Florida back down in the fear that they will be viewed as passing “just another Florida law”, or will they attempt to push it through?
There is a lot to be said on the issue between now and then, both in Florida and across the nation. This issue won’t be going away, as gun control is being brought up during nearly every Presidential debate—a process that will only become more heated and visible with time, I might add.
As far as the proposed bill is concerned, we can only wait until January.