Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried wants a Special Session already underway to also tackle gun violence. In the wake of a deadly school shooting in Texas, she said political leaders must act.
“I want to be completely clear: offering ‘thoughts and prayers’ is not enough,” said Fried, a Democratic candidate for Governor. “It’s past time for us to take serious and meaningful action to prevent gun violence. The Legislature must add gun violence prevention reform to the current Special Session agenda. There cannot be any more children massacred or lives destroyed by mass shootings while our government sits idly by.”
The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services handles Florida’s firearm permitting process, but Fried has no power over lawmakers. Fried, the only Democrat on Florida’s Cabinet, cannot expand the call on the Special Session, which was called by Gov. Ron DeSantis to deal with escalating homeowners’ insurance costs.
Lawmakers on Tuesday also took on condominium safety rules as part of business, but can work outside the call if there is a two-thirds vote of the Legislature. That may be unnecessary, as DeSantis’ call included changes to the Florida Building Code.
It’s unlikely DeSantis will call for further gun restrictions, as the Republican leader has previously suggested he wants to see gun rights expanded. He has said he wants constitutional carry, or permitless open carry, passed during his tenure as Governor.
Fried, who angered some Democratic gun control supporters when she sued President Joe Biden’s administration for restricting firearm access for marijuana users, made clear in her statement that stopping mass shootings will be a high priority for her.
“I am completely heartbroken and sickened by the news of another horrific mass shooting today in Texas,” she said.
“While our country is still reeling from the racially motivated murders in Buffalo just 10 days ago, this is yet another devastating tragedy that took the lives of innocent elementary school students. In Florida, we know all too well the pain and trauma that senseless mass shootings cause in our lives and our communities, and our hearts go out to the victims and everyone who has been hurt by gun violence.”
The last time Florida passed any gun rights restrictions came in 2018 in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting in Parkland. That legislation was signed by former Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican now serving in the U.S. Senate.