After weeks of political wrangling, Florida business owners were dealt a small defeat Tuesday when a much-disputed bill that would allow employees to keep firearms in their cars on company property passed the House Judiciary Committee.

Prior to Tuesday, the bill had been sent back to the committee five times for reconsideration.

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The bill is a watered down version of the original bill that was sponsored by state Rep. Dennis Baxley. In the revised bill, employees can keep their guns locked in their cars at work, but business owners would have the right to prohibit employees from doing so “when reasonably necessary” for safety reasons.

The term “reasonably necessary” wasn’t defined in the bill, leading some business owners to view this as a loophole in which any business could argue that it had a legitimate safety concern that would prevent employees from bringing guns to work. The state attorney general would settle disputes initiated by employees who feel that their rights have been violated unfairly.

Despite winning 8-2 approval from the Judiciary Committee, the bill still faces a long, uphill battle before it can be signed into law. The legislation will have to make it through five more committees and the state Senate must adopt the revised version of the bill.

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