heather_dawes_fitzenhagen.jpgTALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – The Florida House is scheduled to vote on a bill that allows the public to carry concealed firearms while evacuating their home during an emergency.

The bill (HB 209) was extensively debated Wednesday and placed on Friday's schedule.

Sponsor Rep. Heather Dawes Fitzenhagen, R-Fort Myers, explained the bill extends carry-and-conceal privileges to those fleeing during a mandatory evacuation declared by the governor or local officials. Individuals, otherwise, must be in compliance with all laws, including having the right to be in possession of a firearm.

"My bill does make it clear that felons are not allowed to carry a firearm,'' Fitzenhagen said. "However, this bill is for people who are lawfully allowed to possess a firearm in their home to be able to take that firearm with them when they are evacuating in an emergency.''

Rep. Kionne McGhee, D-Miami, pointed out there is no exact language that the bill doesn't supersede existing laws and that the Florida Sheriffs Association does not support the legislation.

The Senate version (SB 296) has to clear one more committee before being heard on the floor.

Sherriff John Rutherford told a Senate committee Tuesday that officers need guidelines as to what qualifies as being in the act of complying with the ordered evacuation.

NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer said, "You leave, you get there. That's the time frame we're talking about.''

Some opponents were concerned the legislation would allow someone to bring firearms into to an emergency shelter, which is often a school.

Fitzenhagen said that is not true because existing laws would continue to take precedent and a person could not bring it anywhere they are not lawfully allowed to.