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As Florida Lawmakers Start Committee Hearings, Gun Safety Advocates Call on Lawmakers to Act on Gun Violence, Reject Efforts to Dismantle Gun Safety Laws Passed After the Shooting in Parkland 

October 9, 2023

Last Session, Florida Lawmakers, and Governor DeSantis Enacted Permitless Carry, Despite The Majority of Floridians Opposing Efforts to Erode Common Sense Gun Reform

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots networks, released the following statements as the Florida State Legislature begins their interim committee meetings for the upcoming session. Florida has high rates of gun violence and weak gun laws, lacking important foundational gun safety measures. Last session, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed permitless carry into law behind closed doors despite research showing it could increase gun violence and polling that showed 77 percent of Floridians oppose permitless carry.  

In August, three Black people were shot and killed in a racist attack by a white supremacist at a Dollar General store in Jacksonville. The shooting was a racist act of violence targeting Black people in the community. Black Americans experience a gun death rate 2.5 times larger than that of white Americans, experience a gun homicide rate 12 times higher than that of white Americans, and Black Americans are nearly 3 times more likely to be shot and killed by police, than white Americans.

“As our lawmakers head back into legislative session, we will continue to honor and stand with survivors to call on Florida lawmakers to advance a common-sense gun safety agenda that will save lives – and also attack the root of the crisis,” said Katie Hathaway, a volunteer with the Florida chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Our institutions that propel and fuel hate-filled rhetoric and easy access to guns are enabling our gun violence crisis and hate-fueled violence – producing a lethal environment for Floridians.”

“Students like myself know all too well that we live in a world where shots can ring out anywhere, anytime. Following the devastating mass shooting at my high school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, our lawmakers passed policies to make our schools and communities safer,” said Alex Pfeifer, a volunteer leader with the Florida chapter of Students Demand Action and student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. “Lawmakers should work to expand these life-saving laws and reject efforts to dismantle these important policies that are widely supported by Floridians. Lawmakers have already filed a bill to REPEAL X – they must stop putting Floridan lives at risk.” 

For the upcoming legislation, the Florida chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots networks are calling for:

  • Improving Florida’s secure storage law to better protect Florida children and adults by preventing unintentional shootings, gun suicides, and thefts. Under current law, Florida residents are only required to store firearms securely if a child 15 or younger could gain access. Florida should improve its law and require guns to be stored securely anytime they are not in the owner’s possession–including in vehicles. In recent years, guns have been stolen from cars at an increasingly alarming rate, and are now the largest source of stolen firearms.  
  • Funding for community-based violence intervention programs that save lives in the communities that are hit hardest by gun violence. This past session, the bipartisan-approved budget allocated $5 million for Community Violence Intervention funding in Florida, however Governor DeSantis vetoed this and declined to apply for over $15 million in guaranteed federal money made available by the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to help implement Florida’s Risk Protection Order law and other crisis intervention programs

Rep. Joel Rudman has already introduced HB 17, which would eliminate mandatory waiting periods for firearms purchases. This was established by a Republican-led Florida government after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and requires a certain number of days to pass between the purchase of a gun and when the buyer can actually take possession of that gun. 

In an average year over 2,900 people are killed by guns in Florida, and over 5,200 more are shot and wounded. Gun violence costs Florida $40.3 billion each year, of which $875.9 million is paid by taxpayers. More information on gun violence in Florida is available here.

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