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Proposed bills confront gun and privacy rights issues

by | Dec 29, 2020


Bills filed yesterday by Florida Legislatures add fuel to the ongoing gun and privacy rights debates.

Republican Representative Anthony Sabatini (District 32) filed House Bill 123 which would allow the carry of firearms without a concealed carry license. It also seeks to limit areas where a concealed carrying of firearm is prohibited. It reduces the penalty for carrying a concealed area into a prohibited area from a felony to a misdemeanor. It allows non-residents of Florida to carry a concealed firearm without a license and recognizes all out-of-state concealed carry licenses. It also provides for issuance of concealed carry licenses for reciprocity purposes; specifies that person not otherwise prohibited by law from possessing firearm may own, possess, and lawfully use firearms and other weapons, ammunition, and supplies for lawful purposes.

Meanwhile, Democrat Senator Linda Stewart (District 13) has filed legislation to regulate 3D-printed firearms. Her bill, Senate Bill 372, would require 3D-printed firearms contain at least four ounces of metal and prohibit the use of specific plastic polymers in the creation of a 3D-printed firearm. The prohibited polymers are resilient enough to withstand the combustion required to fire a projectile and are undetectable by metal detectors.

“These guns are undetectable and untraceable – meaning anyone with access to a 3D printer can gain access to a deadly firearm,” said Stewart. “This bill is about keeping guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.”

The bill requires that anyone in possession of a 3D-printed firearm that does not comply with the requirements of the law must destroy or relinquish the weapon to the appropriate law enforcement agency. Violators of the law would face a 3rd-degree felony.

On the personal privacy debate, Republican Senator Tom Wright (District 14) filed Senate Bill 44. It would allow law enforcement to use drones to monitor large crowds, assist with traffic control and collect crime scene evidence.

Currently it is illegal for a Florida law enforcement agency to use a drone to gather evidence or other information.

Under the 2013 state law, law enforcement cannot legally use a drone in Florida “to record an image of privately owned real property or of the owner, tenant, occupant, invitee, or licensee of such property with the intent to conduct surveillance on the individual or property captured in the image in violation of such person’s reasonable expectation of privacy without his or her written consent.”

Wright’s proposed bill proposes several exceptions to those restrictions. It would allow drones to be used to give law enforcement an aerial perspective of a crowd of 50 people or more. They would also be allowed to assist with traffic management, although the bill prohibits police from issuing “a traffic infraction citation based on images or video captured by a drone.”

The proposed bill would allow drone technology to collect evidence at a crime scene or traffic crash scene and for the assessment of damage caused by a flood, wildfire or any other natural disaster. Drones would also be allowed to assist in vegetation or wildlife management on publicly owned land or water.

Republican Senator Joe Gruters (District 23) proposed similar legislation (Senate Bill 520) last year, but it ultimately died over bipartisan concerns of violating 4th Amendment rights, protecting a citizen from unreasonable searches and seizures.

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