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Greg Steube files bill to allow guns into legislative meetings

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State Rep. Greg Steube called a columnist’s bluff on Tuesday, filing a bill to allow guns into public hearings at the Florida Capitol.

Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel wrote last week that Florida lawmakers were “gun-shy cowards” for proposing to allow guns on college campuses, but not inside the Legislature.

“Republican House members have advanced two gun bills: one allowing Floridians to openly carry weapons and one allowing guns on college campuses. They have done so in the name of gun freedom,” wrote Maxwell. “But these tough-talking legislators do want to limit gun rights when you’re near them.

“Specifically, they have proposed keeping Florida statute 790.06, which says no person can ‘openly carry a handgun or carry a concealed weapon or firearm into … any meeting of the Legislature or a committee thereof.’ They want guns on campus. They want open carry most everywhere. But they don’t want to allow either one of those things around their delicate derrieres.”

He goes on to call out Steube — who has carried, so to speak, a handful of controversial gun bills — by name.

“The bill’s main sponsor, Sarasota Republican Greg Steube, offered similar double talk when I confronted him two months ago — claiming he would welcome guns in legislative meetings, but not amending his bill to do so.

“If they really wanted to do this, it would be easy,” Maxwell wrote.

Apparently Maxwell’s ironic pro-gun clarion call got the third-term legislator’s attention, because Steube has taken him up on it.

His just-filed HB 4031, which deletes the exemption Maxwell cites above, meaning attendees at legislative hearings could legally pack heat as lawmakers deliberate.

“If they truly believe in unrestricted gun freedom — if they honestly believe the Second Amendment has no restrictions — [state Rep. Matt] Gaetz and Steube could use their little strike-through pens to remove all of the gun bans. Yes, all,” Maxwell wrote. “That would be big action to match their tough talk. That would be unfettered gun rights.”

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to FloridaPolitics.com and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at ryan@floridapolitics.com.

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