Seeking to ensure that the weapons capable of killing scores of innocent people in less than 60 seconds are part of the upcoming Senate committee discussions on mass murder and white supremacy, Senate Democratic Leader Audrey Gibson on Wednesday requested that three key gun reform measures be included in the Senate President’s call for action.
“Despite prominent attempts by some to equate white nationalism with mental illness, we are hopeful that the Senate will more closely examine it for what it is, namely, an expression of hatred fueling much of the violence we are witnessing nationwide,” wrote the Jacksonville Democrat to Senate President Bill Galvano.
“Clearly however, more is at play than just one factor. Whether the massacre unfolded in El Paso, Dayton, or Las Vegas, Newtown, Parkland, or Pulse, the one inescapable common thread that has bound each and every one of these horrific mass shootings is the presence of an assault weapon. In Florida, the problem is compounded thanks to easy access to these weapons, lack of background checks for private gun purchases, and constraints placed on family members preventing them from proactive measures to stop a tragedy before it happens. These are the critical elements Senate Democrats have attempted to address in the past, yet continue to await the full attention of the Florida Legislature.”
The legislation Senate Democrats are requesting be added includes the following:
- Assault Weapon and High Capacity Magazine Ban Bill – Senator Stewart
- Brief Summary: This bill bans the sale or transfer of assault weapons or high capacity magazines in the State of Florida. Requires that all assault weapons or high capacity magazines possessed prior to October 1, 2020 be accompanied with a certificate of possession. Bans the possession of assault weapons or high capacity magazines without a proper certificate of possession. Does not apply to Law Enforcement Agencies or the U.S. Military.
- Risk Protection Order Bill SB 114 – Senator Berman
- Brief Summary: Also known as a “red-flag law.” This bill would add parents, grandparents, spouses, siblings, and guardians to the list of individuals able to request a risk protection order, allowing a judge to require law enforcement officers temporarily remove firearms from the possession of an individual that the petitioner has reason to believe poses a threat to themselves or others.
- Background Check Bill – Senator Farmer
- Brief Summary: This bill would eliminate the exemption on background check requirements for private sales of firearms (otherwise known as the gun-show-loophole). Currently Florida Statutes require that a background check be performed on all firearm sales carried out by a licensed dealer. There is no requirement for sales between two non-licensed individuals. This bill would require that all private sales or transfers of firearms be facilitated by a licensed firearms dealer, who would in turn be required by law to perform a background check.
- Background Check Bill SB 94 – Senator Book
- Brief Summary: This bill would also eliminate the exemption on background check requirements for private sales of firearms. The legislation, however, would also apply to the sale or transfer of a firearm via the internet.
Without these measures, Leader Gibson warned, Floridians will continue to remain vulnerable to anyone driven by hatred and easy access to guns developed for the battlefield. And she called on the legislature to break the hold the gun lobby has maintained, preventing many widely-supported reform measures from either hearings or passage.
“Had the shooter in El Paso trained his sights on a city or town in Florida, not one of the safety measures adopted following Parkland – under 21 gun sale prohibition, expanded background checks, bump stock bans – would have stemmed the body count. His act of terrorism was carried out with a single, unmodified AK-47-style semi-automatic rifle, legally purchased in Texas and easily available at gun stores and through private sales here in Florida,” she wrote.
“In the name of white nationalism, 22 people died, and 26 were wounded after an anti-immigrant gunman opened fire on back-to-school shoppers in El Paso. Hatred drove him; some say hatred even pulled the trigger. But should we fail to give these bills the thorough consideration they deserve, we continue to risk the lives of every family, every child – every Floridian – who looks to us for leadership and solutions to this escalating threat to their safety. We continue to provide the means by which that trigger can be pulled.
“For far too long, both in Florida and nationwide, common-sense gun reforms have been thwarted by the gun lobby. They are intent on maintaining the status quo, no matter the cost in lives, no matter the families they help to destroy. Their version of solutions has been and continues to be more guns, and Florida is awash in them. In both Pulse and two years later, Parkland, the destruction they unleashed is testament to the hold they maintain on this legislature. We have the power to finally break that grip. We also have the moral obligation.”