As the Florida legislature returns for the start of the 2022 legislative session today, lawmakers will once again have the opportunity to pass common-sense gun safety bills.
2021 was marked by staggering levels of gun violence fueled by the gun lobby’s “guns everywhere” agenda. Across the nation, we saw historic levels of gunfire on school grounds and record homicide numbers in some cities. Shootings across the states underscored the deadly effects of America’s lax gun legislation, and the high profile trials of Ahmaud Arbery’s murderers and Kyle Rittenhouse highlighted the dangers of open carry and ‘Stand Your Ground’ or ‘Shoot First’ laws. As the stress and uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic extend into the new year, meaningful action on gun safety remains more critical than ever.
This year, lawmakers should protect Floridians by rejecting dangerous legislation that would weaken our gun laws and, instead, support gun safety bills that would reduce gun deaths and save lives, starting with repealing Florida’s deadly ‘Shoot First’ law, rejecting permitless carry legislation, and funding violence intervention programs.
What to know about Florida’s ‘Shoot First’ law:
- ‘Shoot First’ laws threaten public safety by encouraging armed vigilantism, allowing people to shoot first and ask questions later, even in instances when they could safely remove themselves from the situation.
- Florida’s law even limits the authority to arrest and prosecute someone who claims self-defense under the ‘Shoot First’ law, meaning shooters go free without ever having to present evidence that self-defense was justified.
- Nationally, these laws are associated with more than 150 additional gun deaths every month. After Florida’s law was enacted in 2005, studies show that homicide rates increased between 24 and 45%.
- In ‘Shoot First’ states, homicides in which white shooters kill Black victims are deemed justifiable five times more frequently than when the situation is reversed.
- The Self-Defense Restoration Act (HB 73 and SB 888) would repeal Florida’s ‘Shoot First’ law and return Florida to the self-defense principles that existed prior to the passage of the law in 2005.
What to know about permitless carry in Florida:
- Passage of a permitless carry bill would allow a person to carry a handgun, openly or concealed, without a permit, dismantling the culture of responsible gun ownership promoted by Florida’s concealed weapon licensing system.
- Permitless carry bills like HB 103 would eliminate safeguards like the background check and live-fire training required under Florida’s current licensing system.
- Permitless carry laws significantly hinder law enforcement’s ability to prevent people with dangerous histories – including extremists and white supremacists with criminal histories – to carry firearms, putting public safety in jeopardy.
- Permitless carry has been widely opposed by law enforcement across multiple states, including in Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, Louisiana, and South Carolina.
- More information about permitless carry is available here.
What to know about Violence Intervention Programs in Florida:
- Communities across Florida are suffering from the impacts of gun violence.
- Local violence reduction, intervention, and prevention programs help reduce gun violence in some of the communities most heavily impacted.
- A Community Violence Intervention and Prevention grant program could provide an essential source of funding for these programs and enable them to sustain life-saving work.
- SB 1188 would create such a program, allowing community-based partnerships and non-profit organizations to support and expand effective violence reduction initiatives including hospital-based violence intervention, street outreach, and group violence intervention strategies.
What to know about gun violence in Florida:
- In Florida, on average, 2,752 people are shot and killed with a gun every year.
- Every year, an average of 981 people in Florida die by gun homicides; Florida has the 28th-highest rate of gun homicides and gun assaults in the United States. Black people in Florida are 7 times more likely than white people to die by gun homicide.
- Firearms are the second-leading cause of death for children and teens in Florida. In an average year, 187 children and teens die by gun in Florida, and 66% of these deaths are homicides.
Statistics about gun violence in Florida are available here, and Everytown’s Gun Law Navigator — which shows how Florida gun laws compare to those of other states — is available here.
If you have questions, or to request an interview with a volunteer from Florida Moms Demand Action, please don’t hesitate to reach out.