Florida Gun Control Letter Falls on Deaf Ears

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Despite more than 80 organizations across the state and a few from around the country asking Florida politicians to increase gun control, the governor isn’t listening.

 Eight days after the Pulse shootings in Orlando, The League of Women Voters of Florida (LWVF) requested Florida Governor Rick Scott, Senate President Andy Gardiner and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli to hold a special session on banning assault weapons and increasing background checks. The state government is currently in recess until November.

LWVF hand-delivered the letter to Gov. Scott and others on June 20 and the deadline to call for the special session, July 4, passed without any comment from Tallahassee. Meanwhile, more groups across the state are signing the letter every week, including LGBT organizations The Pride Center at Equality Park, Gay Key West/Key West Business Guild and Equality Florida. As of press time, there are more than 80 organizations who signed the letter asking for more gun control legislation.

Patti Brigham, the first VP of LWVF and the state-wide gun safety chair of the League, says they started the letter two days after the Pulse shootings in Orlando.

“The idea was to bring many groups and organizations together to work on this issue,” Brigham said. “Something has to be done about gun violence.”

The Florida Coalition to End Gun Violence — formed within LWVF in the wake of the Pulse shootings — originally had 40 organizations sign the letter that was delivered to Tallahassee. Now just a few weeks later, the partnerships have doubled.

“We’re continually adding to the list, from Florida Council of Churches to Doctors for America,” she said. “We even have groups like Florida Parent/Teacher Association.”

LWVF Pamela Goodman said it’s time for the state to do more for the residents.

“In the wake of the worst mass shooting in recent U.S. history, Floridians are asking for more than prayers and vigils from our elected representatives,” Goodman said on the LWVF website. “Other states have helped to protect their citizens by enacting reasonable gun legislation. Don’t pass the buck to federal government.”

The letter states that due to their immense destructible power, semiautomatic assault rifles should not be widely available to regular citizens.

“There is simply no reason for private citizens to have access to weapons like the MCX Carbine [rifle] used to murder the 49 people in Pulse Nightclub in Orlando on June 12, 2016,” the letter reads. “Florida should follow the lead of the seven states — California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey and New York — that already prohibit large capacity ammunition feeding devices that hold over 10 rounds.”

This isn’t the first time LWVF has fought bad gun bills. Earlier this year, the group won the fight against campus carry laws. But when the Pulse shootings happened, Brigham said it was time to be proactive.

“When Pulse happened here in our own backyard, we felt it was time to widen our reach and begin to go after proactive gun legislation instead of fighting bad gun laws,” she said. “It’s important we fight those bad gun bills, but at the same time we are making it a mission to focus on background check expansion and a ban on assault weapons.”

To see the full list of organizations that have signed on in support or to add your group to the list, visit TheFloridaVoter.org.