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5 years after Pulse shooting, Florida has seen few gun reforms

Steven Lemongello, Orlando Sentinel on

Published in Political News

“The Republican Party of Florida supports all rights guaranteed by the Constitution, and the Second Amendment is no exception,” said Florida Republican spokeswoman Helen Aguirre Ferre.

Ferre responded to a request to interview state Sen. Joe Gruters, head of the GOP in the state.

The lack of action comes even as polls have shown a vast majority of Americans, Republicans included, support some reforms.

A Politico/Morning Consult poll from March showed 84% of voters, including 77% of Republicans, supported closing the gun show “loophole” and requiring all gun buyers to go through a background check. That echoes similar polls over the past few years, including a Washington Post-ABC News poll from 2019.

Ferre, though, said the March poll “flies in the face of numerous recent reports of increases in the sale of firearms and ammunition, including first-time buyers, in the face of increased violent crimes over the last year.”

A bill closing the gun show loophole passed a Republican-controlled state Senate committee in 2020 but then died in another committee.

 

Ferre said it was Republicans who introduced and passed the only successful gun reform legislation in Florida in the five years since Pulse.

The law, signed by Gov. Rick Scott in the immediate aftermath of the 17 deaths at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in February 2018, raised the minimum age to buy rifles and shotguns from 18 to 21.

The law also extended a three-day waiting period for handgun purchases to include long guns and banned bump stocks that allow guns to mimic fully automatic fire. It also allowed some school staffers to be armed.

Smith said the bill was “slammed together” in response to the increased pressure caused by such a tragic shooting happening in the middle of the legislative session. Lawmakers realized they had to do something after the students from the South Florida school stormed the Florida Capitol in the weeks after the shooting to demand action.

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