PINELLAS PARK, Fla. — More and more businesses across the country are banning firearms on their property. Now, a proposed bill in the state Legislature aims to make those businesses responsible for the safety of customers who may be left vulnerable without access to their weapon.
Michael Sfakianos is a concealed weapons permit holder and values his right to carry his gun in public.
“If something were to happen, how long does it take for law enforcement to get there or someone else to help me out?” he asks. “I’m responsible for my own well-being, my own life.”
As a manager at Bill Jackson’s gun shop in Pinellas Park, Sfakianos and many of his customers stay up on both federal and state laws regulating firearms and now are reacting to Florida Senate Bill 610, which aims to make businesses banning guns solely responsible for the safety of customers, including concealed weapons permit holders who are not allowed to bring their guns inside.
“I have seen those posted signs and it annoys me a little bit," he says. "It’s almost like stating to everyone 'Here’s a gun free zone, if you want to do something this is the place to do it.’”
Sfakianos does believe businesses have the right to make rules applying to their property, but his customers have mixed opinions.
“It’s like 50-50,” said Sfakianos of their viewpoints. "I had a couple people it struck up more thought and others who said 'Yeah, I would want them to be responsible for my safety.'”
We spoke with customers outside a movie theater here to get their take on the bill and if businesses banning guns should be responsible for customer safety.
“That sounds pretty reasonable, considering you’re not allowing people to defend themselves,” said Austin Davis.
Republican State Senator Greg Steubie of Sarasota is sponsoring Senate Bill 610.
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