Legislative Roundup: 1/24/18

Florida

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On Wednesday, just days removed from a mass shooting at a high school in Kentucky and in the midst of 11 school shootings in the first 17 days of the 2018 school year, the Florida House Criminal Justice Committee passed HB 621, a bill allowing "designated individuals" to carry firearms on school grounds. 

School principals or school superintendents would select the designees, who would complete 40 hours of training and four hours of firearm proficiency training from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Teachers, employees and volunteers could all be considered for the position.
Designees would also be required to undergo active shooter training to prepare themselves in case of a life-threatening emergency on public school campuses. 

Meanwhile, the same committee also advanced HB 1419, allowing churches, synagogues and other places of worship to allow concealed firearms on their premises. 

We continue to oppose both of these pieces of legislation and will be grading all future action on the bills.

Kentucky

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In the wake of that school shooting in Kentucky, it didn't take the legislature long to take up the issue of guns. Unfortunately, it was the same old solution: more.

Sen. Stephen West, R-Paris, filed a bill Tuesday that would allow public and private schools in Kentucky that cannot afford to hire a resource officer to designate one of their employees as an armed “school marshal.”
West said he quickly filed Senate Bill 103 bill in response to the shooting at Marshall County High School that killed two students and wounded 14 others. The bill is a duplicate of a previous measure he filed in 2016.
School resource officers are sworn law-enforcement officers with specialized training and established relationships with local police agencies. But given budget constraints, there are only 230 of them in roughly half of Kentucky’s counties, according to the Kentucky Center for School Safety.

This debate of resource officers vs. school marshals is one we expect to see a lot in the coming months as legislators attempt to use another tragedy at another school to make the argument that more guns are the answer. We oppose SB 103 and urge lawmakers to come up with a more common-sense solution to this problem.

Virginia

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Tomorrow, HB 41 will be heard in the Militia Policing and Public Safety Subcommittee in the Virginia House of Delegates. This legislation would make it a crime to possess mechanical devices that would increase the firing rate of semi-automatic weapon to that of an automatic weapon. The bill has 18 Democratic co-sponsors, but party-backed bills have had a difficult time in Virginia so far this session, as the GOP's tenuous majority continues to stick together in opposition to gun regulation.

We continue to support this legislation and will be grading the committee's vote on the matter.

West Virginia

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There is a concerted effort in statehouses across the country on behalf of the NRA and their backers to arm first responders as if they were law enforcement. Not all emergency personnel are law enforcement, but West Virginia is the latest state where they apparently want them to be:

A bill introduced in the West Virginia Legislature would allow certain first responders to carry a firearm in the Mountain State.
House Bill 2916 will be submitted on Tuesday, January 23 by Delegates Pethtel, Hanshaw, and Lovejoy.
The bill would authorize certain first responders to carry firearms. It would also authorize supervisors to authorize ambulance crew members, firefighters, rescue squad members, and emergency service personnel to carry firearms with the completion of training to carry a firearm.

First responders have a job to do, and that job is too important and too engrossing for them to properly be in simultaneous, responsible control of a weapon. We are opposed to this legislation and see it as another transparent way for the pro-gun lobby to fulfill their goal of more guns in more hands in more places for any reason.