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Gun-Control Advocates Push for Stronger Reforms in Florida

The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which tracks firearms legislation, gives Florida a failing grade for its gun laws this year. (Pixabay)
The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which tracks firearms legislation, gives Florida a failing grade for its gun laws this year. (Pixabay)
August 31, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The latest mass shooting in Jacksonville is seen by some as another example of why Florida's attempt to reform its gun laws falls short. Gun-control advocates flooded social media with hashtags like #AnotherFLShooting and #GunshineState, in frustration over the latest shooting at a video-game tournament.

In February, state lawmakers passed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act. It bans the sale or possession of so-called "bump stocks," gives law enforcement more power to seize weapons from those deemed mentally unfit, and raises the firearm-purchase age from 18 to 21.

But other key provisions were kicked out of the bill, says Andy Pelosi, co-chair with the Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence.

"You know Florida's still got a long way to go and you know, the thing that we're working on and we still want to continue hammer home is the need for background checks on all gun sales. There's legislation that was put in last year, and we know it will be reintroduced this year," says Pelosi.

Pelosi's group also pushed for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Senate Republicans rejected the proposal, as the National Rifle Association's Florida lobbyist claimed it was too far-reaching.

The new law also has in place a three-day waiting period for firearm purchases, with some exceptions. Pelosi says while his group will continue to pursue legislative fixes, he thinks the problem is more systemic.

"You know we've got a serious, serious gun problem and there is not just one thing that's going to solve this,” says Pelosi. “I think there is cultural issue here – really trying to make people think twice. Do you really need a weapon, you know? Do you have to have that gun?"

Seventeen people lost their lives in the Parkland shooting; five died in a shooting at the Fort Lauderdale airport, and 49 in the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016.

An NRA spokesperson has called for ending or changing gun-free zones after the shooting at the Jacksonville entertainment center, which bans firearms on the premises.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - FL