With Guns Allowed in FL Capitol, Senators Get ‘Panic Buttons’


Two months after a new Florida law made it easier to bring concealed guns into the Capitol, the Senate security force has installed special alert buttons on the phone of every senator and staffer, reports the Miami Herald. At the touch of a button, an unseen officer in the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Office can instantly monitor a conversation in Senate offices and respond if needed. “Instead of reversing what we did, we're resorting to panic buttons,” said Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich of Weston, who opposed the new gun law. “It's unnerving. My staff is very nervous.”

For years, Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents asked concealed weapons permit holders entering the Capitol to surrender their weapons and store them in a police lock box. If they refused, FDLE agents would notify the sergeant's office, which would assign a guard to follow the person through the building. But a law that took effect Oct. 1 pre-empts city and county governments from regulating guns except where the state expressly allows it. That includes the state Capitol, where guns are prohibited only in the House and Senate chambers and committee rooms.

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