Keeping a commitment first made after the massacre at Pulse Nightclub, state Senator Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) on Monday re-filed legislation banning assault weapons in Florida.
“The weekend tragedies in El Paso and Dayton served as a horrific reminder of the massive damage these weapons of war can inflict in just seconds,” said Stewart. “We witnessed this first hand at Pulse and at Parkland. Mental health may play a role in setting the stage for these killings. But it is the gun itself and the firing of that weapon that leads to the carnage. We owe it to the survivors, and to the people of Florida who overwhelmingly have supported such a ban, to outlaw these weapons once and for all.”
The coming 2020 session will be the fourth year that Senator Stewart has filed legislation to ban assault rifles and high capacity magazines. Each time, the efforts have been rebuffed by the Republican-controlled legislature following intense opposition from the National Rifle Association.
Senator Stewart, a member of the Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee, is expected to be a part of efforts announced Monday by the Senate President to more deeply probe the “various factors involved in mass shootings.”
In addition to the critical need for an assault weapons ban, Senator Stewart is seeking a focus on the rise in gun violence driven by white supremacists, in tandem with the divisive and dehumanizing rhetoric targeting immigrants and people of color emanating from the White House, some of which appears to have been mirrored in the manifesto linked to the El Paso gunman.
“Had he decided to carry out his attack here, the El Paso killer could have easily purchased an assault rifle in this state under current law,” said Stewart. “There was nothing that would have legally stopped him.”
Senator Stewart’s bill would prevent weapons specifically designed to deliver high rates of lethal gunfire without the need to pause and reload from falling into the hands of people such as the shooters who carried out the attacks on Pulse, Parkland, and, most recently, in El Paso and Dayton.
“For years, I have fought to ban the purchase, sale, and transfer of assault weapons in Florida and with each failure of the legislature to take effective action on these weapons, countless lives have been lost in senseless tragedies,” said Stewart.