New bill would allow local elected officials to bring guns to government meetings

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Local elected officials in Florida could bring guns to government meetings, but people appearing before them would remain unable to carry weapons, under a bill filed Wednesday.

The proposal (SB 1524) by Sen. George Gainer, R-Panama City, would change a law that prohibits people from bringing guns to government meetings. The bill would create an exception to allow members of county commissions, municipal boards, school boards or special district boards to pack heat at their meetings if they have concealed weapons licenses. A similar exemption exists for judges in their courtrooms.

The state bans carrying concealed weapons at places such as police and sheriff's stations, jails, courthouses, polling places, colleges, professional sporting events and bars. Rep. Mel Ponder, R-Destin, filed a similar bill (HB 183) in September.

The bills are filed for the 2020 legislative session, which starts Tuesday. Gainer is a former longtime member of the Bay County Commission, while Ponder is running this year for an Okaloosa County Commission seat.

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