Speak Your Mind


A big step for Florida gun control was taken last week. Florida Owners Privacy Act, a law that prohibited Florida doctors to ask their patients if they own gun, was struck down by a federal appeals court. You might ask why on earth doctors would need to know if their patients own a gun, and many see that question as an invasion of privacy. But on second look, asking this question makes a lot of sense. Doctors usually ask soon-to-be parents questions on the safety of their households, such as where they store chemicals, do they have covers for their outlets and — you guessed it — if they own guns. Psychiatrists also should be able to ask their patients if they own any weapons if they fear their patients could be becoming aggressive.

In more Florida gun control news, a new bill for Florida Legislature is due to be voted on this month. If passed, the bill would allow the open carry of guns in public places. It describes some rules for open carry, such as owners must have valid IDs and licenses on them at all times. But if a person doesn’t carry these things and gets stopped, he faces a $25 fine and a noncriminal penalty. Does that mean that someone without a license who is openly carrying a gun around could potentially be fined only $25 if caught? This bill needs to be reevaluated. Haven’t the crazy Florida crime stories gone far enough? Apparently not. Apparently we need a law that allows people to carry guns around like it’s the wild west.

Now, some may ask why open carry is a big deal, especially because concealed carry is already legal. But that’s not all the new bill is proposing. It also is aiming to expand the places where guns are allowed. Currently, the possession of guns is prohibited in airport terminals, legislative and local government meetings, elementary, middle and high schools, district board meetings, career centers and public colleges and universities. Thankfully, you must be 21 to purchase a handgun in Florida, so no students in high schools can openly carry a gun, but one can only imagine having faculty members openly carrying around guns on campus. Picture teachers lecturing with guns in their holsters. How would anyone be able to focus?

Another reason that this is a terrible idea is that it would make police officers’ jobs so much harder. They would have to waste time stopping people to check their licenses. If they arrive on the scene of a crime, and someone — or potentially multiple people — are carrying guns openly, the police officers’ focus now has to shift from the crime to the people waving around guns.

Gun laws are controversial right now, especially with all of the deadly shootings that have taken place in recent years. But some people think that the best way to combat these deadly shooters is to let more people carry guns. How in the world does that make sense? You don’t fight fire with fire. You make it harder for fire to burn. You restrict gun laws and make it harder for people to acquire them. We need to conduct more extensive background checks on people applying for gun licenses and make sure that people can only buy guns legally. We also need to stop the open carry bill.

OK, now let’s do some math. According to PolitiFact, Florida has 1,384,756 million concealed weapon permit holders as of March 2015. According to the United States Census Bureau, Florida’s population is roughly 19.89 million as of 2014.

That means that if all of those people with concealed weapon permits now had open carry permits, about 5 percent of Florida’s population would be walking around with their weapons in plain sight. So if you passed roughly 200 people a day, you theoretically would see 10 of them carrying a gun in plain sight. That’s a pretty scary thought.

Basically, I am fine with people owning guns. It is their constitutional right and I respect that. But we must construct carefully thought-out rules to regulate guns, instead of allowing people to carry them willy-nilly.

If you have a strong opinion about this bill, you should contact your local state Rep. Thad Altman at [email protected] and let him know what you think.

By Helen McSorley