In the wake of the murder of 17 people during the Stoneman Douglas shooting on Valentine’s Day, Wilton Manors commissioners are trying to figure out how to respond.
At the beginning of their Feb. 27 commission meeting, commissioners read the names of the victims who were murdered in Parkland. After previous incidents of mass gun violence, such as when Pulse occurred, commissioners have done the same.
It’s a tradition that Mayor Gary Resnick said has gone on for far too long. “Enough is enough. I am very much in favor of taking a stand to do something,” said Commissioner Julie Carson, who said the city needs to “make a change or proactively change the laws in Florida in regard to gun regulation.”
Local elected officials are barred by the state from passing ordinances, rules, or any kind of regulation that deals with guns and ammunition. Anyone who violates the statute can be fined up to $5,000 and removed from office by the governor. Any regulations passed can also be declared null and void. “We need to have control, not Tallahassee,” urged Father Jamie Forsythe, pastor at
Holy Angels Catholic Church in Wilton Manors.
Commissioners are also weighing whether to join a lawsuit brought by city officials in Weston challenging that statute. Vice Mayor Justin Flippen said the city should challenge the law, but not break it. “Something has to be done,” said Commissioner Scott Newton.
In addition to passing a resolution urging the state and federal government to do more to cut down on the availability of weapons like the AR-15, which was used in Parkland and in other mass shootings around the country, the commission also approved spending $2,000 to send one of the Stoneman Douglas students to Washington, D.C. to take part in the “March for Our Lives” gun-control rally on March 24.
Chief Paul O’Connell honored the members of the Wilton Manors Police Department who responded to the shooting – Det. Bonnie Owens, Det. David Turner, Det. Patrick Newton, Det. Frantz Petitpapa, and Officer Matthew Rowles. Victim Advocate Alberto Carrillo attended the CNN town hall to assist with multi-agency victim’s advocate efforts. “Despite what you hear in the media, these men and women answered the call, and they didn’t shy down. And for that, I am very grateful and very proud,” said O’Connell.