When Florida’s annual 60-day legislative session gets under way next month, lawmakers will be looking for ways to keep kids safe from guns, reports the Tampa Bay Times. Statewide, the number of children killed by guns has risen nearly 20 percent since 2010. Child gun injuries went up 36 percent. Possible solutions differ radically along party lines. Democrats want to tighten the existing law that holds adults criminally liable when kids access their firearms, and increase the penalties. The lawmaker with the most power over the matter has a different idea. “We could do away with gun-free zones,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Greg Steube, a Republican, citing a key piece of the National Rifle Association’s agenda in Florida.
Florida law prohibits concealed weapons in 15 types of locations, including elementary through high schools. Steube and other Republicans argue that people are generally less safe in these so-called “gun free-zones” because they cannot protect themselves in an active-shooter situation. “There’s not a school resource officer in every one of our elementary schools,” he said. “If a terrorist wants to come in and start shooting our kids, there’s nothing to stop them.” The Times looked at all types of gun incidents that affect children: accidents, suicides and shootings that took place during the commission of a crime, among them. The newspaper found the number of accidents and assaults were roughly even between 2010 and 2015, but that accidents increased far faster than assaults or suicides.