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ORLANDO, FLA. – State Sen. Linda Stewart and Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith unveiled proposed legislation to ban the sale of assault-style weapons and large-capacity magazines in Florida. Stewart and Smith stressed that when they introduced similar bills last year, the legislature gave it no discussion and no hearing.
“They said it’s just too early to talk about limits on assault weapons,” she said, noting it closely followed the Pulse nightclub shooting and that we’re now on the heels of the Las Vegas mass tragedy.
“I say it’s not too early. It’s too late,” Stewart said.
Smith echoed the sense of urgency. “We need bold action once and for all to address the public health crisis that is gun violence,” he said.
Pointing to the LBGTQ people of color who were killed and injured at Pulse, he asked, “Do their lives not matter?”
On June 12, 2016, 49 people were killed and 58 wounded at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Sunday night, 58 people were killed and more than 500 injured at a concert in Las Vegas.
Patricia Brigham, Co-Chair of the Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, said in kicking off the news conference Wednesday that we are not deterred by the lack of legislators’ action so far.
“America has become a battlefield,” said Brigham, who is also 1st Vice President of the League of Women Voters of Florida. “It doesn’t have to be this way.”
Angel Santiago, Jr., who was wounded at Pulse, told the dozens attending the news conference that he’s not against the Second Amendment but said we can’t let mass shootings become our new normal and urged everyone to contact their legislators and plead for the proposed ban.
“I’m outraged that the sale (of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines) hasn’t been banned,” said Myra Alvear, who lost her daughter Amanda in the Pulse massacre.
“Do this not for me,” Alvear said. “Do it for our country.”
The Rev. Bryan Fulwider, chairman of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, said thoughts and prayers are not enough.
“They’re nice. I think thoughts and prayers are good,” said Fulwider, who is also one of WMFE’s Three Wise Guys of “Friends Talking Faith”. “It would be nice if some of our state legislators try it,” he said, stressing that the big question in mass shootings is not “why” or “what” but “how,” including, “How have we collectively allowed a world of madness to emerge?”
Before the Coalition’s’ news conference, Equality Florida’s Senior Policy Director Hannah Willard said, “When tragedy strikes, thoughts and prayers will never be enough. After the Pulse massacre, we promised to #HonorThemWithAction through passing common sense gun policy that will keep all of our communities safe. We now promise to hold Las Vegas in our hearts as we continue our work to uproot violence wherever it exists.”
David Moran, Orlando Co-Director of Gays Against Guns, added, “These are weapons of war. Allowing their sale makes no sense and only enables more bloodshed and suffering. Such senseless, mass gun violence with assault weapons is not inevitable, it’s entirely preventable. Our elected officials must take a stand and say no more. Not ever again.”
The Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, created by the League of Women Voters of Florida, promotes smart, common-sense gun legislation and helped set the course for Stewart and Smith’s proposed bills. It includes more than 100 non-partisan organizations dedicated to ensuring responsible gun policy, including such diverse groups as the Campaign To Keep Guns Off Campus, Hispanic Federation, Interfaith Council of Central Florida, Florida PTA, and Doctors for America.