Legislation pertaining to guns — both real and imaginary — is on its way to the Florida Legislature for the 2014 session beginning Tuesday.
Bills on toaster pastries and insurance policies are just two of a dozen gun-related measures facing legislators this term, with many of them not expected to go anywhere, says Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida, especially if Marion Hammer doesn’t like them.
Hammer is the authoritative Florida lobbyist and former national president of the National Rifle Association.
Passing bills (or not) will not actually matter to the lawmakers looking towards re-election efforts in 2014; bills are often introduced just to provide a candidate talking points to score points with constituents back home.
“Certain legislators will file legislation they know will not pass because they will be able to demagogue during their campaigns and say, ‘I filed it but couldn’t get it passed.’ This happens in every state in the union, and on the federal level,” Hammer told the News Service. “People use bills to accentuate their beliefs on certain issues. And those who want to be able to stand up and say, ‘I support the Second Amendment, I support the rights of law-abiding gun owners,’ are going to want to be able to vote on some pro-gun legislation and sometimes against anti-gun legislation.”
The most favorable bills on the 2014 legislative agenda:
Pop Tart Bill — proposals called the“Pop-Tart bill” will prevent school administrators from punishing children who imitate guns while playing, or wear clothes depicting firearms. The proposals — HB 7029 and SB 1060 — include “brandishing a partially consumed pastry or other food item to simulate a firearm or weapon,” “using a finger or hand to simulate a firearm or weapon” and “vocalizing a firearm or weapon,” as well as possessing a toy made of “snap-together blocks” from becoming grounds for disciplinary action.
Warning Shots/Defensive Display — Immunity from prosecution would be granted for people who fire warning shots in self-defense under SB 448 and HB 89, which came after the case of Jacksonville local Marissa Alexander, who was sentenced to a 20-year prison sentence for firing a gun into a wall during an argument with her estranged husband.
Guns and Insurance Policies — The “Discriminatory Insurance Practices against Gun Owners” proposals SB 424 and HB 255 attempt to prevent insurers from charging higher rates to gun owners, or refusing to issue or canceling auto or homeowner policies based on gun ownership.
Florida law currently prohibits insurers from charging higher rates or canceling policies; the proposals would allow policyholders the ability to sue if an insurer took such a move.
Other proposals (SB 544 and HB 523) backed by the NRA would allow county tax collectors to receive and process applications for concealed-weapon permits. The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services would still be the only authority to issue such licenses, but tax collectors could accept applications and renewals. Tax collectors associations support the idea, and with NRA backing, it seems likely to pass in 2014.
Florida’s most controversial gun law, Kam writes, will most likely remain the same, even after a Jacksonville case once again cast a harsh light on the state’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law, which permits lethal force when a person feels their lives are in danger. Under Stand Your Ground, they would be immune from prosecution.