Florida Senate OKs Bill to Curb Gun Negligence

From United Press International

The Florida Senate on Monday approved legislation to crack down on negligent gun owners in reaction to a recent spate of gun accidents that killed three children and wounded three others.

The Senate passed the bill, 32 to 4, during the first day of a three-day special session called by Gov. Bob Martinez to consider the gun bill and a controversial $2-billion bond program to expand Florida's turnpike.

House committees were expected to consider the legislation today.

The bill would require gun owners to lock their weapons in a box or gun case or to use a trigger lock if they know or reasonably should have known that a minor might have access to the weapon.

Violations would be a second-degree misdemeanor. But anyone who leaves a loaded gun within easy access of a minor who uses it to injure or kill himself or anyone else would be guilty of a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.

The Senate amended the legislation to define a minor as anyone under 16 years old and to include a fine of $500 for people convicted of using a gun during any crime. The money would fund gun education efforts. A similar amendment was expected in the House.

Sen. John Grant, a Republican from Tampa and the Senate sponsor of the measure, said the bill attempts to promote "plain common sense" by gun owners.

The rash of accidental shootings began on June 5, when a 10-year-old Miramar boy killed his 8-year-old sister with his father's revolver. A day later, a 13-year-old Orlando boy killed his 10-year-old playmate with a gun he found in his father's briefcase.

A 4-year-old Tampa boy who shot himself in the chest on June 11 when playing with a handgun he found in his home died Saturday.

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