Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Gun Bills Spark Debate | Sen. Greg Steube's 'Open Carry' Efforts Are Tiger Bay Topic

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Gun Bills Spark Debate | Sen. Greg Steube's 'Open Carry' Efforts Are Tiger Bay Topic

Article excerpt

MANATEE TIGER BAY

BRADENTON -- Numerous bills are pending in the Florida Legislature regarding loosening or tightening regulations pertaining to firearms, the more controversial legislation being that filed by Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota.

On Thursday, the Manatee Tiger Bay Club hosted a forum in which three speakers -- Steube's rival in the 2016 election, a clinical psychologist and a Libertarian Party spokeswoman -- exchanged views about what the state should or should not do in attempting to control who has legal access to guns.

The club invited Steube to participate, but the freshman senator canceled because of legislative

committee commitments in Tallahassee.

Frank Alcock, associate professor of political science at New College of Florida, ran as a Democrat against Steube and lost in November.

Alcock still opposes Steube's effort to allow the state's 1.7 million holders of concealed weapons permits to openly carry their firearms in elementary and secondary schools, public colleges and university campuses, airport passenger terminals, legislative meetings, meetings of local governments and school boards and career centers. One of Steube's bills would allow permit holders to bring guns into courthouses, where the weapons must be securely stored at a security checkpoint.

As a member of the faculty at a public college, Alcock said he is "not convinced public safety will be enhanced" by Steube's "open carry" legislation. He said college faculty, administrators, security and students share his concern.

He also opposes a Steube bill that would make a private business liable if it bans concealed weapons on its premises and a permit holder is injured by a person or an animal in an incident that possibly could have been prevented had the permit holder not been disarmed.

That could lead to a business such as Disney World, which now prohibits firearms at its theme parks, to reluctantly abandon that precaution, Alcock warned.

Alcock said lawmakers need to strike "a balance" that recognizes "the Second Amendment constitutional rights we all have as citizens" as well as "public safety. …

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