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FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – In Tallahassee on Tuesday the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee considered House Bill 6005.
It’s a bill that would amend a current law to allow anyone possessing a firearm to have it in a parked car on school grounds.
Representative Cord Byrd, a Republican from the Jacksonville area, sponsored the bill.
Byrd argued that the current law was initially intended to prevent students from bringing guns onto school campuses.
However, he says school districts have used the law to prevent anyone from having a gun in a parked car at school and he says that’s led to law abiding gun owners facing criminal charges.
“That’s what my bill is trying to correct —the improper prosecutions of individuals who are otherwise acting legally and it’s because the statute has been improperly interpreted by the school districts,” Byrd told CBS4 News.
He added that many people already do this and are unaware of the potential consequences, as many school districts have made it a crime to leave a firearm in a vehicle on school property.
“They’re already doing it,” Byrd said. “Thousands of people are doing it every single day.”
For Byrd and some on the Committee, it’s a matter of convenience for gun owners who attend a school function or pick up their children and do not have time to take their gun home before going to the school. He said they risk arrest if they’re caught.
We’ve seen the current law applied here in South Florida. Broward school employee Nathaniel Strowbridge was arrested last August for having a gun in his car at a middle school.
It appears that if the law had been changed prior to last August, Strowbridge might not have faced a criminal charge.
Several people at the Committee meeting urged the members to oppose the bill.
“The intent of this bill is to have more guns in more places,” said Jaime Ito of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense.
Other gun control advocates also oppose it.
“For me, there’s a flaw with this law,” said Maria Wright, whose son Jerry was murdered at the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando in 2016.
She believes the bill should not take away the ability of individual school districts to decide what’s best for their communities.
“It’s up to the school district whether they want to limit that or not,” Wright told CBS4 News. “If this law passes, it takes that away from the school districts and every school district is different.”
Opponents worry about what could occur on a school campus if a person with a gun in their vehicle became angry over a call in a school sporting event or over a grade a child received. Wright also worries that the change in the law would allow anyone merely possessing a gun to have it in their car at school and not narrow it to someone with a concealed weapons permit and training.
“We’re not talking about guardians,” she said. “We’re not talking about concealed carry permit holders. We’re talking about anyone over 18 with a firearm in their possession.”
Miami Dade Schools registered their opposition to the proposed bill on Tuesday. Broward Schools is also against this bill.
Representative Byrd told CBS 4 News that the bill will now moves to other committees for consideration and if it passes, it will come up for a vote on the House floor.