For more than six years, Florida’s 2011 Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act prohibited physicians from querying patients about gun ownership or to ask about the presence of firearms in their homes.
That state-imposed prohibition, however, was deemed an unconstitutional violation of doctors’ First Amendment rights by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a resounding 10-1 ruling in February 2017.
The state never appealed the federal ruling in what became nationally known as the “docs vs. Glocks” case, but the law remained on the books as a Florida statute.
Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, pre-filed House Bill 6039 on Monday, a proposed measure that would remove provisions in the statute declared unconstitutional while retaining its privacy measures, including a provision that doctors cannot “discriminate” against gun owners.
While HB 6039 is unlikely to be a controversial measure in itself – more of a revision to remove “dead” language from state statutes – it is among the latest in a bevy of proposed firearms-related bills awaiting legislators when they convene their 2019 session on March 5.
Of the 1,649 bills pre-filed for the 60-day session as of Monday afternoon, at least 50 address firearms regulation, a reflection of shifting political dynamics in the "Gunshine State” where, historically, anything that sniffed of an infringement on gun owners’ Second Amendment rights was DOA.
All that, apparently, changed with last March’s adoption of Senate Bill 7026, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, a quickly-assembled $400 million response to the Parkland Valentine’s Day school shooting that included several previously inconceivable gun-control measures.
SB 7026 raises the minimum age to purchase firearms to 21; requires a three-day waiting period to buy firearms; bans “bump stocks;” and gives greater authority for law enforcement to seize weapons under “red flag” laws.
Despite opposition from the National Rifle Association and pressure from its powerful Florida lobbyist Marion Hammer, not only did the bill pass, but Republicans who supported it suffered little to no consequences in being re-elected in November.
The Valentine’s Day school shooting in Broward County that left 17 dead was the fifth mass murder by firearms in Florida within the previous two years, including the Pulse nightclub massacre that killed 49 people and wounded 53 in July 2016.
The Pulse shooting is among the reasons Guillermo Smith cites for running for the state House in November 2016. Since gaining office, he has filed numerous gun control bills, including three proposed “assault weapons” bans over the past three years, including a pre-filed 2019 bill.
The latest iteration of Guillermo Smith’s “assault weapons” ban, HB 455, would prohibit possession and sale of “military-style assault weapons” and “large-capacity” ammunition magazines. It was pre-filed Jan. 22 – the day before a gunman murdered five women in a Sebring bank.
On Monday, Guillermo Smith did not comment on HB 6039 and acknowledged his proposed “assault weapons” ban bill has little chance of being approved by the Legislature, but said a petition drive to get a constitutional measure before voters in 2020 is gaining momentum.
“I support the ballot initiative to ban assault weapons,” he wrote on Twitter. “Since state leaders refused to give my AWB proposal a hearing, Parkland/Pulse communities had no choice but to work around the Legislature rather than with them! I'll keep fighting, still! #NeverAgain #ForThe49.”
There is some push-back in stemming Florida’s drift toward incorporating gun control measures typically popular in places like New York and California.
Rep. Mike Hill, R-Pensacola, has filed HB 175, which would rescind the gun-control measures in last year’s SB 7026. It has been referred to the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee and House Judiciary Committee.
But otherwise, Hill’s bill seeking to expand gunowners’ rights is an outlier amid a flurry of gun-control proposals that lawmakers will see in, at least, committee if not on chamber floors.
- SB 466, the Senate companion to Guillermo Smith’s “assault weapons” ban, introduced by Sen. Gary Farmer, D-Ft. Lauderdale. It has been referred to the Senate Judiciary, Criminal Justice and Rules committees.
- SB 500, introduced by Sen. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, which would prohibit the “distributing, transporting, transferring, selling, or giving of an ‘assault weapon’ or ‘large-capacity magazine.’” A “grandfathered” ban, referred to the Senate Criminal Justice and Appropriations committees and the Criminal and Civil Justice subcommittee.
- SB 108, introduced by Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation, transferring the concealed weapons licensing program from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of Law Enforcement. Referred to the Senate Judiciary; Commerce and Tourism, Infrastructure and Security committees.
- HB 135, introduced by Rep. Margaret Good, D-Sarasota, requiring background checks for all firearms transfers when “neither party is licensed dealer.” Referred to House Judiciary Committee and House Criminal Justice and Justice Appropriations subcommittees.
- HB 197, introduced by Rep. Cindy Polo, D-Miramar, which would prohibit “concealed weapon or firearm licensee from openly carrying handgun or carrying concealed weapon or firearm into any child care facility.” Referred to the House Judiciary Committee and House L Criminal Justice and Children, Families and Seniors subcommittees.
- SB 364, introduced by Sen. Branyon, D-Miami Gardens, which would revise “locations where a (concealed weapon) licensee is prohibited from openly carrying a handgun or carrying a concealed weapon or firearm.” Referred to the Senate Judiciary, Rules and Commerce and Tourism committees.
- HB 403, introduced by Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, which would allow “religious institution to allow concealed weapons or concealed firearms licensee to carry firearm on property of institution.” Referred to House Judiciary and Education committees and House Criminal Justice Subcommittee.