Florida Democratic lawmakers want to have the possibility of an assault weapons ban and expanded background checks considered at the Florida Senate’s upcoming review of mass shootings and white nationalism.
Senate President and Republican Bill Galvano, of Bradenton, called for the review last week, following the mass shootings in Texas and Ohio that claimed 31 lives.
According to a letter that Senate Democratic Leader Audrey Gibson sent to Galvano, “[S]hould we continue to 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 the trigger can be pulled.”
Another bill the Democrats have filed would potentially expand the state’s red-flag law to add parents, grandparents, spouses, siblings and guardians to individuals who can petition the courts to seize firearms. Under existing Florida law, only law enforcement officers can file a petition to have guns taken from people who are suspected of being a threat.
Republican Senator Tom Lee, who will lead the review, says he intends to include the gun control debate on the agenda. He adds, “I understand that is going to be a central question that is part of this discussion.”
Florida’s GOP Legislature made changes after last year’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman High School that included raising the age to buy a rifle from 18 to 21, as well as making it easier for law enforcement to take guns from dangerous people, imposing a statewide three-day waiting period for all long-gun sales, increasing mental health and school security funding, and banning bump stocks, which enable semiautomatic weapons to fire more rapidly.
However, Gibson says none of those would have prevented the recent shooting at A Walmart in El Paso, Texas. She explains, “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.”