Democratic lawmakers and representatives of progressive organizations Tuesday stood in support of a gun safety bill (SB 254).
Whether it gets heard this year is an open question. Among other things, it would outlaw the sale, transfer or possession “of an assault weapon or large-capacity magazine” in Florida.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the measure – filed last Thursday – had not yet been assigned to any committees, nor had its House companion.
Democratic state Sen. Gary Farmer, a Broward County Democrat who co-introduced the measure with Linda Stewart, an Orange County Democrat, held a press conference at the Capitol with leaders from the League of Women Voters, Equality Florida and a host of other groups.
“I have a meeting scheduled with Senate leadership in the hopes that we will have a hearing,” Farmer said.
But one colleague he’ll have to convince is Greg Steube, the Sarasota Republican who chairs the Judiciary Committee and is backing a push to allow open carry of firearms in the state. His bill would grant that right to the state’s concealed weapon license holders.
Farmer, Stewart and others mentioned the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting and last June’s murders at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman in U.S. history, as evidence of the need for change.
Supporters handed out a list of over 120 groups and individuals who say they support the legislation, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, Florida chapter; Florida Council of Churches; the Pinellas County Urban League and Vice Mayor Linda Penniman of Naples, Gov. Rick Scott’s hometown.
Stewart, whose district includes the Pulse nightclub, said elected officials can’t continue to “just say I’m sorry” after gun violence affects a community.
“We need gun safety legislation,” she said. “We’re more than sorry – we need to act.”