Gun violence has plagued our state and nation for years. Current Supreme Court interpretations of the Second Amendment do not preclude sensible gun safety measures nor do they support the ownership of particularly dangerous and unusual weapons such as high capacity assault weapons.
Former Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote a Second Amendment decision, included an important exception which was the “historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.” In the years since that 2008 5-4 Supreme Court decision, Scalia’s exception has been forgotten by some.
Let’s agree that responsible gun owners don’t like what’s happening – the reckless use of firearms. People who have never held a gun in their lives don’t like what’s happening – the reckless use of firearms. We need everyone to come to the table and work on a sensible solution. Gun violence takes a number of different forms, and so do its solutions. We know that a single policy will not stop every shooting, but when taken in the aggregate, smart gun laws have a significant impact on public safety.
Florida has a serious gun violence problem. Between June 12, 2016 (Pulse Nightclub) through June 12, 2018, the state of Florida experienced a total of 51 mass shootings including the horrendous incident on February 14, 2018 at my alma mater, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. As a result of those incidents, 118 of our fellow citizens lost their lives and 280 were injured.
While the Marjory Stoneman Public Safety Act passed earlier this year is a long-overdue step in the right direction, there are additional measures that can and should be taken to improve gun safety and public security.
- Ban high-velocity assault weapons and large-capacity magazines.
- Strengthen domestic violence restrictions by requiring proof that the abuser has, in-fact, gotten rid of their weapons.
- Strengthen universal background checks for all weapon purchases to prevent sales to those who shouldn’t have access to guns; implement a more rigorous screening and training process for concealed carry permits.
- Require registration of all guns and ensure gun owners are held accountable for ensuring their guns are safely and securely stored.
My opponent, Kathleen Passidomo, has taken a very different stand on the gun safety issue, one more in-line with the dictates of the National Rifle Association than with the right of Florida’s citizenry to expect reasonable safeguards for their neighborhoods, schools, places of worship, and recreational areas. Notwithstanding her claim that, as a mother and grandmother, she has taken action to protect our students, her actual voting record suggests otherwise.
After 8 years in office, the last two of which included two of the most horrendous mass atrocities seen across the United States, Passidomo did, in the end, vote for a version of the “The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act” (SB 7026). That bill was a step in the right direction but in many respects too little, too late. What her record also shows is that:
- She voted against amendments to the Marjory Stoneman act that would have banned the sale and possession of assault weapons and large capacity magazines. This is hardly an example of protecting our students.
- She voted against another amendment that would have made it illegal for anyone to sell guns to someone under 21; (though she did vote for making it illegal for licensed dealers to make such sales.)
- In 2016 Passidomo voted for HB 163 which would have made open carry legal and which would have prohibited local jurisdictions from enacting any local measures against open carry. She also voted for HB 4001 which would have allowed open carry on state university campuses. Fortunately, both of these bills failed.
I support responsible gun ownership in Florida and believe the majority of our citizenry does as well. Hunting, target competitions, and self-defense are all valid reasons for responsible gun ownership. But just like we do for automobile ownership and other potentially dangerous items (e.g., opioids, other dangerous drugs, even exotic and dangerous pets) we need to balance the rights of gun owners with the rights of the general public for safe and secure neighborhoods, schools, houses of worship, and workplaces.