TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Leaders within the Democratic Party in Florida laid out their agenda for a proposed special session on gun violence.
Expanding red flag laws, requiring universal background checks for all gun purchases and regulating high-capacity magazines specifically for rifles are the three items Democrats have prioritized.
“This is by no means an exhaustive list of everything that we would like to see done,” said Fla. Rep. Joe Geller, D-Surfside. “If it was up to me, we’d be calling for an assault weapons ban. But this is a package designed to get our colleagues across the aisle to join us in our call. This is not a time to be fencing around the edges: we must act. Common sense things that most people in Florida and most people around the country support.”
Florida’s “red flag” law is widely seen as a success, and has been called a model for other states. However, the version that passed the legislature in 2018 was missing something from the bill proposed by Fla. Rep. Robin Bartleman before the Parkland shooting happened.
“The way the originally law was written, family members could petition the court in the exact same way law enforcement does, with the same due process provisions and all the same requirements,” said Bartleman on a videoconference on Tuesday with other Democratic leaders.
“We know that the red flag law works,” Bartleman added. “We’ve seen over 5,000 times in state of Florida, law enforcement has used it. There’s nothing to fear about the law. Law enforcement will tell you it’s a wonderful tool, so why don’t we expand that tool? We know it’s a tool, we know it’s working. And the other thing is, who but family knows first if there’s a problem? They should be in the position to go immediately, not go to law enforcement but go to court and make sure that their loved ones don’t have access to a gun if they’re going to be a danger to themselves or others.”
However, there is not much support for the special session among Republicans that Fla. Rep. Mike Beltran, R-Lithia, has spoken to.
“Look, I think there is a bipartisan way forward, but the common denominator in all of these mass shootings are not the things that the opposition is talking about,” said Beltran. “The common denominator is someone with serious mental health issues…and then the second part of that, as you saw in Parkland and then even more egregiously in Uvalde, you have law enforcement who get to the scene and then don’t intervene timely.”
The secretary of state’s office is currently polling members to see if there is 60% support to hold the special session on gun violence. The responses will be tabulated and voting ceased by Friday at 3 p.m.