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Florida bill allows firearms at churches that share space with schools

One of its sponsors contends the bill is an issue of property rights.
Credit: SeanPavonePhoto - stock.adobe.com

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A Florida Senate committee on Wednesday is scheduled to hear a bill that allows people to carry a concealed weapon on a church property that shares its location with a school.

The measure, HB 259, overwhelmingly passed the state House in late March by a 76-37 vote almost along party lines. Rep. James Bush, D-Miami, joined Republicans in supporting it, the News Service of Florida first reported.

It is scheduled to be heard by the Rules Committee at 9 a.m.

Florida law allows a person to carry a concealed weapon or firearm into a church, synagogue or other religious institution but not on property shared with a school. The bill, if eventually signed into law by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, would allow weapons on church property regardless of whether it's used as a school.

One of the bill's sponsors, Rep. Jayer Williamson, R-Pace, told the News Service of Florida the measure is an issue of property rights. Religious institutions and owners still can prohibit firearms on their property, according to the bill's text.

But Rep. Joe Geller, D-Aventura, told the outlet the main issue is about guns in classrooms.    

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