A Bill Would Make It More Difficult For Minors In Florida To Possess Firearms

A Bill Would Make It More Difficult For Minors In Florida To Possess Firearms

After students at Dwyer High School and Vero Beach High School were both found to have firearms on campus this year, many people in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast are concerned about teenagers and guns.

Democratic member of the state house Mike Gottlieb declared, “We do have a gun epidemic in the state of Florida.”

He agreed that there is an issue in the state with weapons and teenagers, but he doesn’t think House Bill 1181, which was just proposed, is the right solution.

Republican Representative Berny Jacques of Pinellas County stated, “This measure will go towards making sure our schools are safer, by making sure there are stronger measures to keep these kids accountable.”

Should it be approved, juveniles found in possession of firearms would face a third-degree crime instead of a first-degree misdemeanor.

West Palm Beach resident Candace Stephens claimed the law will draw a rigid boundary.

“Definitely send them a message that you might have to face consequences if you get your hands on a gun and something happens,” she stated.

If HB 1181 is passed, a young person found in possession of a pistol may be detained in a detention center for up to 21 days before criminal procedures start. That’s too long and a rejection of due process, according to Gottlieb.

“After 21 days they seek judicial review to hold the child, but case filing typically takes 21 days,” he stated. “So, after 21 days, the child is being held under the original conditions and may be held for an extra 21 days if good cause is demonstrated.”

According to Jacques, he hopes the bill gives kids a clear message.

“Although, not fully developed, they do know about consequences, and when they know they can do something over and over and over again, and get away with it, they’re going to continue to do it,” he stated. Thus, this is a firm warning to stop doing this immediately or else you will be held responsible. Many young people will find it to be a wake-up call.”

According to Stephens, she is unsure if teenagers should be the sole targets.

“I think the person that owns the gun bears some of the responsibility I think,” she stated. “Of course you want to make sure the children have consequences, but a slap on the wrist sometimes will give them an incentive.”

This week, the Justice Appropriations Committee made a positive determination on HB 1181. Following that, it will go to Judiciary before a vote on the floor.

There is also a comparable Bill in the Senate, introduced by Senator Jonathan Martin.

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