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Florida LWV wants Legislature to convene special session to address gun control issues

Eight days after the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando left 49 dead and an additional 53 injured in the single worst shooting incident in modern U.S. history, the Florida League of Women Voters is calling on state leaders to hold a special session to deal with two specific gun control issues by the end of the month.

Specifically, the LWV wants the Legislature to make it a crime to knowingly import, sell, manufacture, transfer, or possess a semiautomatic assault weapon or large capacity ammunition feeding device.

“There is simply no reason for private citizens to have access to weapons like the MCX Carbine firearm used to murder the 49 people in the Pulse Night Club in Orlando on June 12, 2016. These weapons have immense destructive power and do not belong in civilian hands,” writes Pamela S. Goodman, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida, in a letter addressed to Gov. Rick Scott, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Senate President Andy Gardiner.

The LWV of Florida also wants the state to implement universal background checks.

“Both nationally and in Florida, legal access to guns is still too easy — and this tragedy is only the latest in a long line of examples, ” Goodman writes about the massacre in Orlando. “In particular, the state should require private parties (i.e., non-federally or state licensed dealers) to conduct a background check before selling any firearm. Simultaneously, the state of Florida should ensure that all relevant records are provided to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check.”

In a conference call Monday afternoon, Goodman said the purpose of the letter was to get a response and begin a discourse from the people of Florida to their lawmakers.

Forty-nine different individuals and groups signed on to the letter, including Nadine Smith with Equality Florida and Maria Rodriguez with the Florida Immigrant Coalition.

Goodman said it was important for state lawmakers to hear from so many different organizations and individuals who are calling for specifics, “be it business, be it faith-based, the LGBT community, the Hispanic community, civic organizations, residential organizations, small businesses, entrepreneurs all around the state, from the north, the south, the east, the west, that feel quite strongly that fewer weapons in this state … is common-sense legislation.”

Gov. Scott said in an interview with WESH-TV in Orlando on Monday that he doesn’t believe gun control is the answer. “Let’s be realistic, the Second Amendment didn’t cause this,” he said when asked about the gun control proposals going before the U.S. Senate. “It didn’t shoot innocent people. I mean, evil did. ISIS did. Radical Islam did.”

Gardiner also has expressed his lack of interest in entertaining any discussion of what to do about guns in reaction to Orlando. His spokesperson, Katie Betta, reacted last week when several state Democrats similarly called for a special session on guns to be convened.

“The President does not support expending taxpayer dollars on a special session unless there is definitive support within the Senate for a concrete legislative proposal that requires time-sensitive action,” Betta said. “Absent those elements, the President has a hard time viewing press conferences calling for a special session three days after the worst act of terrorism in this country since Sept. 11 as anything more than political posturing by two senators who have declared their intention to run for Congress.”

The Florida LWV will be hosting a conference call with reporter at 2 p.m. to discuss their proposals.

Written By

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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