Staffers at the Florida capitol in Tallahassee, Florida, are reportedly voicing concern about their safety after a new law went into effect Oct. 1, allowing anyone with a concealed weapons permit to legally bring a gun into the building.
According to the Palm Beach Post, at a training session on workplace violence held in the basement of the Senate office building on Wednesday, Capitol Police officer Scotty Winfrey said: "What does that mean to you? People are allowed to walk freely through the Capitol as long as they have a concealed weapon permit."
"They will not be marked, nor stopped, nor detained in any way once they're inside the building. The only time that they're not allowed to go in is when a legislative meeting is taking place."
That prompted a series of questions from some of about a dozen staffers who attended the meeting. None of the staffers gave their names, saying they feared losing their jobs.
One staffer, who works for the Senate sergeant's office, asked if he and others could get advance notice when someone with a weapon enters the building.
"No," Winfrey said. "If they are going to go into a committee meeting, they're asked to secure their weapon before they come in."
"But how will they know somebody has a gun?. . . I felt very safe before I came into this room. Now I'm feeling edgy," another worker said.
"You mean somebody can come in with a machete or something and have it hidden and just walk around the capitol?" another staffer asked.
Concealed weapons permits allow people who pass background checks, get fingerprinted and pay the $85 fee to carry concealed handguns, knives, Tasers, billy clubs or tear gas guns into many places, although with several exceptions including schools, courts and government meetings.
According to the Florida Department of Agriculture, which issues the gun licenses, more than 850,000 Floridians now have a concealed handgun or weapon permit,
At least 10 other states allow guns in capitol buildings, according to the Associated Press. In Kentucky, those with guns must wear a red sticker designating them as armed.
Sen. Joe Negron, one of the sponsors of the new law, said he wants to know how many people are bringing guns into the Capitol: "We need to know that and discuss that with our security staff," but his law does not provide for such a requirement.