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School gun bill gets first House committee hearing Wednesday

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A House panel will take up a controversial bill that could allow selected employees and volunteers to carry guns at public schools. HB 19 gets its first hearing with the K-12 Subcommittee on Wednesday.

Supporters of the bill, filed by Sarasota Republican state Rep. Greg Steube, say it improves school safety. If passed, the measure would allow school superintendents, after county school board approval, to authorize a “school safety designee” who will be permitted to carry a concealed weapon on school property.

Designees could be honorably discharged military veterans, active-duty members of the military, National Guard or reserves, or active-duty/former law-enforcement officers. Those selected must have a license to carry concealed weapons, complete a designated school-safety program and pass a background check.

Senate Criminal Justice Chair Greg Evers, a Baker Republican, filed the Senate version of the bill (SB 180), which has yet to have its initial committee hearing. Guns at school is a controversial issue this session, as lawmakers consider other proposals, such as allowing people with concealed-weapons licenses to carry guns on college or university campuses. Opponents argue that allowing guns on campus would be an increased hazard to students.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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