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Florida Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action, Everytown Respond to Speaker Oliva’s Failure to Act on Rep. Sabatini’s Tweet Appearing to Incite Gun Violence

June 4, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida chapter of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots networks, today released the following statement in response to Florida Speaker of the House Jose Oliva’s decision to take no action in response to Rep. Anthony Sabatini tweeting an image of an AR-15 and commenting “Attention potential “protesters” coming near Lake County, FL.  This is an AR-15—this will be a very common sight upon illegal entry at any Lake County business—FYI!” 

“Rep. Sabatini’s comments are disturbing, inflammatory, and unacceptable,” said Jenna Preble, a volunteer with the Florida chapter of Moms Demand Action. “But Speaker Oliva would rather sit idly by and condone these apparent threats than pass bills that help keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.”

“Speaker Oliva failed his constituents when he stood in the way of common-sense gun safety legislation, and he failed his constituents again when he refused to condemn these inexcusable comments,” said Sari Kaufman, a survivor of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, and member of the Students Demand Action national advisory board. “He’d rather defend his Tallahassee buddy who has praised threats against a journalist and pushed extreme gun bills than stand up for gun safety.”

This year, the Florida Legislature could have passed SB 7028, which would require background checks on gun sales at gun shows and other places open to the public, among other measures. But according to the Orlando Sentinel, “concerns from House Speaker Jose Oliva and Gov. Ron DeSantis dimmed its chances of success,” and ultimately, the bill was not advanced.

Beyond this tweet, Rep. Sabatini has a long history of introducing NRA-backed bills that would make Florida less safe, including bills that would eliminate training and background check requirements for carrying concealed handguns in public and that would allow students to carry guns onto college campuses. Rep. Sabatini also tweeted “MAGA” in response to a video of a man approaching a reporter with the Orlando Sentinel and “threatening to kick him in the genitals and trying to smack the phone out of his hand.”

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