Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Signs Bill Allowing Congregants to Carry for Church Defense

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 07: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announces that he wants to raise the minimum starting salary for teachers during a press conference held at Bayview Elementary School on October 07, 2019 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The Governor’s proposed 2020 budget recommendation will include a pay raise …
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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed legislation Tuesday allowing worshipers with concealed permits to carry firearms on their persons for church, synagogue, and mosque defense.

WFLA reported that the bill, HB 259, applies to concealed carry permit holders and it took effect immediately upon being signed.

ABC 7 noted the HB 259 also covers churches and other places of worship that have schools. Until now, there has been a prohibition on carry at such churches and/or places of worship because of the school grounds.

State Sen. Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota), who sponsored the bill, said: “There are always threats. And all we’re doing is giving them, those religious institutions, the ability and the right to be able to say ‘yes,’ if we choose.”

“We’re going to allow concealed permit holders — it’s not the wild, wild West — we’re giving one of the safest subgroups in our society the ability to carry,” he continued.

State Sen. Gary Farmer (D-Lighthouse Point) opposed HB 259, arguing it is built on the “fallacy” that a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy.

Farmer said, “There hasn’t been any Dirty Harry or John McClane or Rambo that’s come to the defense of anyone in any of these mass shootings.”

Here are a few examples of good guys with guns stopping bad guys during the past seven years alone:

Breitbart News reported that a concealed carry permit holder shot and killed an alleged Tulsa, Oklahoma, attacker on March 27, 2020, thwarting a mass shooting in the process.

On December 29, 2019, the Associated Press reported that a man opened fire on a Texas church congregation and was shot and killed seconds later by an armed congregant. Video from the incident showed congregant Jack Wilson shooting the attacker while other congregants closed in, guns drawn, to help end the attack as well. ABC News quoted Texas Department of Public Safety Deputy Director Joeff Williams saying, “The citizens who were inside that church undoubtedly saved 242 other parishioners. That might get swept aside in this whole conversation about active shooter response, and God know law enforcement has done a whole bunch of work to make our response better.”

On August 7, 2018, Fox News reported that a concealed carry permit holder was there to “save countless lives” when a gunman with bad intentions opened fire on a back to school event in Titusville, Florida. Fox 32 quoted Titusville police Sgt. William Amos saying, “Based on the information that we’ve gathered. This person stepped in and saved a lot of people’s lives.”

Breitbart News explained that an Uber driver with a concealed carry permit stopped a mass shooting in Chicago on April 17, 2015. The Chicago Tribune reported the permit holder was in his car when he saw a gunman open fire on a “group of people.” The permit holder pulled his own gun and shot multiple rounds, striking the attacker three times and ending the mass shooting in the process.

Breitbart News also noted that a concealed carry permit holder stopped a March 22, 2015, mass shooting in a Philadelphia barber shop. NBC Philadelphia reported that the gunman was shooting at “customers and barbers” when the permit holder intervened, shooting the attacker in the chest and ending the threat.

ABC News observed that Richard Plotts opened fire in a psychologist’s office July 24, 2014, and his shooting spree was stopped by an armed doctor. Plotts was convicted for opening fire in Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby Borough, Pennsylvania. Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan noted that Dr. Lee Silverman, the armed psychologist who ended Plotts’ attack, helped prevent Plotts from reloading his gun to continue firing.

More recently, on May 17, 2021, Breitbart pointed to a good guy who used a hunting rifle to foil an alleged mass shooting in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkinsa weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him at awrhawkins@breitbart.com. You can sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange.

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