TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - More than 700,000 holders of concealed weapons permits are now free to carry weapons into the state Capitol.
In 2005, the Teri Schiavo case raised passions to the point that some lawmakers received death threats. These days, whenever talk of banning assault weapons comes up, there are more threats.
Prior to October 1st, visitors to the state Capitol carrying concealed weapons were escorted to a lock box. New legislation now lets those packing heat keep their guns and they are given a notice explaining their rights.
Those with a concealed carry permit won't have to leave their guns downstairs at the entrance anymore, but they still won't be able to go into any committee meetings.
Legislative staffers are being offered a one-hour safety course. It includes a list of warning signs of verbal and physical violence and also how to respond to an active shooter situation.
Bill sponsor Greg Evers calls the change minor, saying police never had the authority to keep lawfully concealed weapons out of the building.
"They're actually having to abide by the law as it's written," Evers said.
Senate Democratic leader Nan Rich is one of those who received death threats during the Schiavo ordeal. She voted against the change, and she wants it repealed.
"We need to go back and take a look at it and try to protect the people who work here," Sen. Rich said. "The people who work here are frightened."
Since October 1st, no one has come to the Capitol with a gun.
In the last year, someone with a concealed weapon came through security with a gun about once every two months.