Bills to promote gun safety and ease gun restrictions are back in the Florida legislature

Democrats seeking to curb gun violence face headwinds in the Republican-controlled Florida legislature. On the flip side, Republican proposals to ease gun restrictions may also be pushed back.

South Florida Democrats participated in a virtual roundtable on gun safety legislation last week. “People often ask if Congress is doing enough, if the White House is doing enough, if our state governments have done enough,” said Congressman Ted Deutch, who moderated the online discussion with the local and state leaders as well as activists. “The answer to that question is no, definitely no. No one has done or is doing enough.

For the 4e Year Senator Tina Polsky, D-Boca Raton, is trying to pass a law that requires the safe storage of firearms to keep them away from children. “I naively thought this should be a pretty easy step to take when I entered the legislature four years ago,” Polsky said. “We are not taking arms from anyone – we are just asking you to do the responsible thing.”

Another proposal would ban ghost guns, firearms that can be reconstituted by amateurs at home. “It’s really important because this is a case where now our technology has sort of exceeded our laws,” said Christine Hunschofsky, D-Coconut Creek. Her district includes Parkland, and she was mayor of the city when the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School occurred in 2018. While the gun used by the shooter was legally purchased, other shootings in schools were conducted using phantom weapons.

“Someone can go online now, buy a gun that is 80% finished. They can be told how to pay it in cash so that it cannot be found. This gun kit will be sent to them, ”Hunschoksky said. “They’ll have all the tools to put it together, and now they’ll have a gun that they didn’t need a background check for – and that can’t be found because it doesn’t have a serial number. ”

Advocates are also encouraging background checks of anyone purchasing ammunition. A proposal called Jaime’s law named after Jaime Guttenberg, 14, the victim of the Parkland shooting.

“If we are to do something to reduce gun violence, to reduce the risk of gun violence, to reduce the number of gun violence victims, let’s make it harder for those who intend to harm to buy the ammunition for do it, ”said Fred Guttenberg, who became a gun control activist after his daughter’s murder.

After the Parkland shooting, the GOP-controlled legislature took action against guns, such as banning stockpiles of bumps. These devices can allow a semi-automatic firearm to fire bullets more quickly. There is now a federal ban on bump stocks.

The legislature has also put in place a way to keep firearms away from anyone seen as a threat to themselves or to others, and raised the gun purchasing age from 18 to 21. The NRA has sued over the increase in age, and the case is under review. by a court of appeal.

Unlike this legislation and proposals tabled by Democrats, an effort by Representative Anthony Sabatini, R-Clermont, would significantly reduce restrictions on guns. “I will always fight for the pro-Second amendment legislation, ”Sabatini told the News Service of Florida. “We have to make sure people can access guns when they want in their own defense, and that means wherever they go. ”

Sabatini has tried for years to loosen Florida gun laws. But even Republicans have been loath to go as far as Sabatini wants, especially in an election year. One of his proposals would allow holders of concealed weapons permits to be armed during legislative meetings.

“Some of these government meetings, like I think some people in politics are today, are dangerous places,” Sabatini said. “So it’s just irresponsible that (people) cannot defend themselves in a place where there is a lot of hostile tension and where really dangerous people are gathering. So it’s really a self-defense maneuver if you ask me.

Sabatini has another bill that would allow guns on college campuses. This effort has been thwarted on several occasions by former Florida State University president John Thrasher, who is also a former Florida House president and former Republican state senator. Thrasher voiced his opposition in his last State of the University address to FSU before retiring last year.

“I want to make you the promise once again that I have made every year – that I will continue to fight any kind of legislation on campus,” Thrasher said. “We’ve all been grieved enough to know that more guns on campus doesn’t make us safer.”

Sabatini also wants to lower the purchase age for firearms to 18. “Dangerous criminals will always find access to guns, and they will always be able to use those guns to break the law,” Sabatini said. “The question for us should be, how do we equip safe, law-abiding, constitution-abiding Americans with guns? How do we make sure that these people can defend themselves? ”

The larger of Sabatini’s proposals would eliminate the state’s concealed weapons license and allow firearms in more places. The Gun Owners of America group released a video with Sabatini outside the Florida Capitol last September, promoting legislation that is now in place in 21 states.

“Constitutional porterage – this is open porterage and unlicensed porterage. You shouldn’t have to ask the government’s permission before you carry a gun in your own defense, and you should be able to carry it openly, ”Sabatini says in the video. “The spineless Republicans of RINO (Republican In Name Only) have to co-sponsor this bill and pass this thing. No more lying to the American people about being strong on the Second Amendment. ”

The Suwannee County Republican Party recently passed a resolution supporting the Constitutional Carry Bill.

Last month, Governor Ron DeSantis was asked if he would sign a constitutional law on transportation if it lands on his desk. National Association for Firearms Rights posted a video showing the question asked during a reception at the governor’s residence. DeSantis’ two word answer was “of course”.

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