Florida legislators already have a pretty sweet gig. They have sweeping power, access to millions of dollars in special interest money, and heavily subsidized state health insurance.
But if there's one glaring problem with being a Florida lawmaker, it's this: They still have to abide by state gun laws just like every other schmuck. Even if a Tally hotshot wanted to pack serious heat inside a grade school or a local city hall, he'd have to leave his Colt .45 in the car.
Thankfully, reliably nuts state Sen. Greg Steube has stepped up to address this obvious shortcoming in Florida's laws. As part of a big bill watering down gun control rules statewide, Steube has inserted language that would allow all state lawmakers to carry weapons wherever they damn well please.
Provided legislators already have concealed carry licenses, the bill would let them ignore any local or state restrictions on where they could take their guns. (Federal law would still apply, so state reps would still have to drop the Glock before getting on an airplane. Bummer!)
Why exactly is Steube doing this? He didn't immediately return a call from New Times, but he told the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee Bureau that the idea popped up when a member of Gov. Rick Scott's cabinet asked Steube to write into his bill an exception just for cabinet members.
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Which cabinet member? Our money is on Attorney General Pam Bondi, but all three members outright denied having asked Steube to do so. And of the three, only CFO Jeff Atwater confirmed he has a concealed carry permit. (Under Florida law, that information is not available in public records requests.)
Writing that cabinet-member exemption apparently flicked on a light bulb in the senator's brain. This past Monday, Steube added an amendment expanding the exemption to every single lawmaker in Tally.
The bill actually has a solid chance of passing, because its main language would loosen penalties for openly carrying a gun or taking a gun into banned zones such as schools and hospitals. Steube wants to change the crimes — which currently are second-degree misdemeanors with $500 fines and up to 60 days in jail — into civil offenses with $25 penalties.
But it's worth asking: Would you really trust a state lawmaker packing heat in a school zone?