Gun Law News: March 31, 2019

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Florida…

A Florida House committee voted March 21 in favor of a broad school-safety bill to expand an existing guardian program. The program will allow classroom teachers to volunteer to carry weapons if local school boards approve. The Republican-led legislation, adopted 11-5 along party lines by the House Education Committee, builds on a law passed after the mass shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Teachers would not be required to carry guns.

Those who volunteer would need to take part in 144 hours of firearms training, possess a valid concealed weapons permit and pass both a psychological evaluation and drug test. As of January, the program numbered about 726 armed volunteer guardians in 25 Florida counties. Teachers whose sole focus is classroom instruction are excluded, according to a committee staff analysis. The primary sponsor, Rep. Jennifer Sullivan (R – Eustis), said the intent is not to force any teacher to carry a gun but to allow those who volunteer and are qualified to improve safety in public schools.

 Kentucky…

Earlier this month, Gov. Matt Bevin signed legislation allowing legal gun owners to carry concealed without a permit. The now-law allows gun owners to bypass the previous requirements to pass a background check, complete gun-safety training and pay a $60 fee to acquire a permit to carry in Kentucky legally. Senate Bill 150 will go into effect 90 days after session-end, set for March 28. This puts the law into effect in late June. Legal gun owners in Kentucky are currently allowed to openly carry a gun without a permit. The newly passed legislation will now allow anyone who is at least 21 years old and who already meets the legal requirements for gun ownership to carry openly or concealed.

Missouri…

A bill debated by a Missouri House committee would require public universities to allow anyone with a concealed carry permit to have firearms on campus. Supporters of House Bill 258 said March 6 that it would let people protect themselves. However, critics fear it would allow for “guns everywhere.” The bill would also allow people to carry concealed firearms in private businesses unless the owners have posted signs saying concealed firearms are not allowed. “It is allowing private property owners to make that decision for themselves,” said Rep. Jered Taylor (R-Republic), the bill’s sponsor. “I don’t believe that the government should be telling one way or the other.” The bill also prevents municipalities from restricting people from carrying except in places such as police stations, courtrooms and jails, according to Taylor.

South Dakota…

On March 18, Gov. Kristi Noem signed a bill to allow individuals with enhanced concealed carry permits to bring firearms into the Capitol. “The state Capitol is already a safe place thanks to the dedicated men and women of our Highway Patrol,” Noem said in a news release. “With this law in place, law-abiding citizens with the proper permit will be able to carry in the Capitol, just like they can in so many other places.” Enhanced concealed carry permits require individuals to apply, pay a fee and complete a qualifying handgun course taught by a South Dakota certified instructor, the news release said.