Seeking to protect the most vulnerable among us and stem the ongoing push to flood the state with more firearms, Senator Lori Berman (D-Delray Beach) and Representative Cindy Polo (D-Hialeah) filed legislation to add childcare facilities to the list of public sanctuaries where firearms are prohibited.
Concealed firearms and weapons are currently prohibited in courtrooms, courthouses, polling places, public school districts, meetings of county governing bodies, gatherings of the state legislature, and other places.
HB 245 and SB 398 would add childcare facilities to that list, imposing a ban on a concealed carry licensee from possessing an open or concealed weapon or firearm in any childcare facility.
“There is no valid reason for a parent or visiting adult to be armed when entering a child care facility,” said Senator Berman. “In our schools, we protect our children by only allowing guns on campus in the hands of trained personnel. This same standard should apply here. Individuals should not be permitted to enter these facilities with weapons. Common sense dictates that guns should be prohibited in these centers except for trained individuals.”
“As a mother of a toddler, keeping children safe is top priority,” said Representative Polo. “This piece of legislation won’t curb the gun violence epidemic in our state, but it will create a safe space for our little ones. We must do everything we can to ensure that children do not fear attending school due to a fear of guns. An intentional or accidental shooting at a preschool is an unthinkable tragedy, and this legislation will help prevent it from becoming a reality.”
This legislation stemmed from the discovery that childcare facilities are not among protected facilities which ban firearms. That lack of protection was brought into sharp focus just last year after an adult charged into a Vero Beach preschool armed with a loaded gun tucked into his belt. The man was only charged with resisting arrest because he had a concealed carry license, and no prohibitions are currently on the books banning weapons in preschools.
Backed by controversial special interests including the National Rifle Association and Florida Carry, the Republican-led legislature has been a willing partner in expanding the reach of guns in our communities, increasing the number of places where firearms are allowed. Both Senator Berman and Representative Polo are expecting no less in the upcoming 2020 legislative session.
“We will soon be approaching the second anniversary of the horrific shootings in Parkland,” said Senator Berman. “Since that tragic day, 566 mass shootings, including the Pittsburg synagogue, Dayton and El Paso have followed, as has the growing number of young people who have died because of gun violence on our streets – a rate 41 percent higher in 2016 than it was in 1963 when data was first collected. This legislation stops the violence before it can begin.”