By: Teresa Mull
Democrats across the nation have made increasing gun control their priority this year, but, nevertheless, several states have moved in the opposite direction by advancing smart gun legislation.
Here are seven states that have made pro-gun strides in recent weeks:
Arming Florida Teachers
The Florida House passed a bill last month that would enable qualified school staff to carry guns.
The Sun-Sentinel reports:
Florida House committee voted … for a broad school safety bill that would expand an existing guardian program to allow classroom teachers to volunteer to carry weapons on campus if local school boards approve.
Teachers would not be required to carry guns, but those who volunteer would have to undergo 144 hours of firearms training, possess a valid concealed weapon permit and pass both a psychological evaluation and drug test.
Currently, teachers whose sole focus is classroom instruction are excluded from the program that as of January numbered about 726 armed volunteer guardians in 25 Florida counties, according to a committee staff analysis.
The bill has been the target of protests at the Florida Capitol and was postponed “because of a procedural dispute with the Senate involving bills that could affect the state budget,” gainesville.com reports.
According to the website:
But the delay is not expected to change much.
The Republican-led House and Senate are advancing similar proposals to allow more teachers to become guardians over opposition from Democrats, the state’s largest teachers union, and dozens of parents and students who have testified before legislative committees.
Expanding Constitutional Carry in Idaho
GPM reported last week that Idaho had expanded the Constitutional Carry law it already has on its books.
Republican Gov. Brad Little signed a bill into law on Wednesday that will expand permitless concealed carry to adults 18-to-20 in Idaho’s cities.
The measure, HB 206, was approved in an easy 53-13 House vote while the Senate passed it last month 28-7. The bill fixes a carve-out in the state’s 2016 constitutional carry law that allowed those aged 21 and up to carry in Idaho’s cities, while adults under that age could only carry outside of city limits but apply for a permit for carry in urban areas after receiving approved training.
Forgiveness in Tennessee
A bill pending in the Tennessee legislature would waive the misdemeanor charge for permit holders who inadvertently ignore “no firearms allowed” signs at businesses.
News Channel 5 reports:
…State House Representative Clark Boyd says you shouldn’t be punished for an accident.
"If you were in the business, because that circumstance happened, and someone mentioned it to you, or you saw a sign somewhere else in the building, you have broken that law," said Rep. Boyd. "The moment you step through that door, you’ve committed a crime, and all you want to do it make it right."
In Tennessee, ignoring the signs is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by a $500 fine.
However, this would give handgun carry owners a defense to paying that fine.
Utah: Stand Your Ground
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert recently signed H.B. 114, the state’s Stand Your Ground bill, into law.
This important self-defense legislation clarifies existing Utah law that there is no duty to retreat when an individual is justified in responding to an aggressor with force and ensures that crime victims will not be victimized a second time by the criminal justice system.
The NRA reports several anti-gun bills also failed in Utah this year, including a bill to establish “safe storage” requirements, a bill to hold gun owners liable for crimes committed by other people with their firearms, a bill to establish a red flag gun confiscation law, and a bill to expand background checks.
Good News Elsewhere
It’s also worth noting that three other states, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Kentucky, all became Constitutional Carry states this year and are in the process of enacting permitless carry.
Teresa Mull is editor of Gunpowder Magazine. Contact her at [email protected].