Florida has become ground zero in the gun reform debate. From the Pulse massacre nearly two years ago, to the Fort Lauderdale Airport shooting a few months later, to the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, guns are front and center on the public’s mind, and on policymakers’ agendas.
Some lawmakers are new to the issue and are now repositioning themselves and their relationship with the NRA in the media spotlight. Yet other legislators have always been on the right side of gun reform, fighting for the safety of the community regardless of the press attention they receive for it. That’s why Pride Fund to End Gun Violence endorsed State Representative David Richardson in his run for Florida’s 27th Congressional District.
After the Las Vegas massacre, Richardson filed a bill banning bump stocks and co-sponsored bills banning assault weapons and large capacity magazines (those that can fire more than 10 rounds). Even after the Parkland shooting changed the course of the gun debate, the Republican-controlled House refused to hear the bills in any House committee, effectively blocking the legislation despite it securing 22 co-sponsors.
And while the Legislature ultimately passed a gun reform bill signed by the governor — the first gun reform bill passed in decades — Richardson opposed it because it tied his bump stock ban language to a bill that kept assault rifles on the streets and armed teachers. (After that bill passed, Pride Fund noted the same concerns but felt it was a significant first step given the nascent gun reform movement that was growing due to the activity of the Parkland students.)
Richardson wanted that bill to do more, and we agree that it’s time to demand universal background checks and increase resources for mental health, among other commonsense solutions to gun violence. On this and so many other issues, David Richardson has been a leader for all of Florida.
As the first openly gay member of the Florida Legislature, Richardson has provided a voice and a visible presence for Florida’s LGBTQ community since he was elected in 2012. He’s sponsored bills banning workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as bills honoring Pulse victims.
He also worked on reforming Florida’s corrupt, broken, for-profit prison system, exposing barbaric practices and harrowing conditions at facilities across the state. His actions forced an impassioned debate about government ethics, human rights, and the fundamental values we hold as a society.
It’s that outlook that will set him apart in the race for Florida’s 27th district in Congress. He’ll fight for the principle that healthcare is a right for all, not a privilege reserved for the wealthy. He’ll battle the Trump Administration’s dangerous retreat on environmental safety. And he’ll continue his crusade to protect and expand the rights of women, Hispanics, African Americans, the LGBTQ community, and other persecuted groups.
Richardson’s race is one of the most-watched in this election cycle. It’s at the top of every pundit’s Red-to-Blue list. Despite a well-funded opposition, David Richardson’s commitment to the district through his years of service makes him a standout. Pride Fund supports candidates who will be advocates for the LGBTQ community and those seek to end gun violence. For those reasons, David Richardson is one of our proudest endorsements.
Jason Lindsay is founder and executive director of Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, a political action committee (PAC) that supports state and federal candidates who will act on sensible gun policy reforms and champion LGBTQ equality. Lindsay is a seasoned political operative with 14 years of experience working in politics, government, and campaigns. He also served for 14 years in the U.S. Army Reserve and was deployed to Iraq in 2003.
To get involved, volunteer, or donate to help enact real gun reform, visit our website at www.PrideFund.org.