Former Representative and current Senator Greg Steube (R) of Sarasota has nearly a dozen sponsored bills pushing for the ability to carry firearms into a wide variety of environments. He’d like open carry licensees to have the ability to bring them into schools, into the airport, into a courthouse, and yes, into legislative meetings. Perhaps that last one is a nostalgic effort to bring back the days when representatives brazenly brandished firearms in state legislatures, but none of the measures have overwhelming political promise at the moment.
SB620 would simply eliminate a provision saying that an open carry licensee may not bring a firearm into a legislative session or committee meeting, thereby making it possible to do so. While controversial, it would certainly be interesting to see how the presence of armed legislators would influence the nature of dialogue and debate.
SB622 would amend a related statute, thus enabling an open carry licensee to bring firearms onto any K-12 or University campus. Professors from institutions across the state like Dr. Gene Cash of Nova Southeastern University have warned how the presence of firearms may negatively affect already tense classroom environments and lower the effectiveness of instruction. The objective evaluation of student performance by educators may be compromised as a result of the intimidating presence of a firearm, causing them to pass students regardless of their work’s merit. Proponents of the bill have offered ‘good-guy-with-a-gun’ arguments in response. While the jury is still out on whether or not this has been proven to help, there is certainly a strong constitutional argument that supports this notion.