FL Democrats take issue with bill banning insurance "discrimination" against gun owners that's heading to governor's desk
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04/22/14 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Tuesday | Listen to this entire show:
Tags: guns, Florida Legislature, Race, discrimination, NRA

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photo by Seán Kinane/WMNF News (file photo).


The Florida House has passed a bill preventing insurance companies from discriminating against people who own guns. But several Democrats, like Clovis Watson, Jr. from Gainesville, took issue with using the word “discrimination.”

"As a gun owner, as someone who believes in the 2nd Amendment, as someone who's a descendant of slaves, it concerns me with the word 'discrimination' when we're speaking of firearms. As someone who owns a firearm and who believes in the 2nd Amendment. And when you look at the fact that African Americans first landed on American soil in 1619 as slaves. If you think about 238 years later in 1857 when the Supreme Court would declare that the Negro is not a citizen of this nation but merely the property dictated to his owner, that's discrimination. When you look at Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954, that's discrimination. When you look at women's suffrage and the 19th Amendment, that's discrimination. When you look at the fact that the lips of someone who would say, 'segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever', that's discrimination. So when you use a word that has such powerful meaning in this hall I think we should think about the history of discrimination and the people who experienced it. African Americans, women, people of color, people who may live differently from us, those who may have a different sexual orientation than we do; they experience discrimination. So for that I would not question the integrity of this bill or the validity of the insurance companies and how they will evaluate insurers, but the word discrimination should not be a part of this bill. Thank you, Mr. Speaker."

The mostly-party-line vote was 74-44.

HB 255 would forbid insurance companies from refusing to serve or charging higher rates to applicants based on their ownership of a firearm. It is headed to the desk of Governor Rick Scott to sign. The bill also prohibits an insurer from disclosing information related to the ownership of weapons by a client without the consent of the insured. It extends to both existing and new policies.

information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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