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Fla. Senate Approves Gun Bills

TALLAHASSEE (CBS) -- The Florida Senate on Thursday passed a trio of bills, two of which now go to the governor, that expand citizens' guns rights.

All were approved along party-line votes.

One (SB 234) protects concealed weapons owners from arrest if they accidentally expose their firearms. A person with a concealed weapon permit now could be charged with a third-degree misdemeanor for inadvertently showing his or her weapon.

This bill was ultimately weakened from its original version, which would have permitted concealed gun owners to openly carry guns in stores and college campuses.

Another measure restricts doctors asking patients about gun ownership. This bill was a compromise between the National Rifle Association and the Florida Medical Association. It originally penalized doctors for ever asking the question. It now allows doctors to ask about gun ownership in certain circumstances. A group of pediatricians had opposed that bill because they said it would interfere with patient care.

The third bill prohibits cities and counties from passing stricter gun laws than the state, though it softens the financial penalties city and county commissioners might face to $5,000 rather than $100,000.

Backers say the measures clarify Second Amendment rights while critics say they overstep the constitutional protections and will put patients, local officials and citizens at undue risk.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.)

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