The Florida chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots networks, released the following statement in response to a shooting yesterday evening on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Ilous Ellis Park, Fort Pierce, Florida. According to reports, one person was shot and killed and seven people were shot and injured during a block party celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
“It’s especially heartbreaking that as families gather to celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. — a man committed to peacefully fighting injustice, our communities are met with yet another act of senseless gun violence,” said Makiko Felice, a volunteer with the Florida chapter of Moms Demand Action. “As gun violence continues to permeate our communities and daily life, Governor Ron DeSantis and our state leaders continue to promote dangerous policies like permitless carry — to advance their own political interest rather than fulfilling their duty to protect us.”
State and local leaders have a vital role to play in combating gun violence. After the tireless advocacy from gun violence survivors and volunteers following the Parkland shooting in 2018, the state passed life-saving gun safety measures, including a Risk Protection Order law, also known as a red flag law, and a law to raise the age to purchase all firearms to 21 years old. However, despite recent shootings including the shooting that happened two weeks ago in Miami Gardens, Florida in which ten people were shot and wounded in the parking lot of The Licking Restaurant, Governor DeSantis and other lawmakers publicly committed themselves to passing permitless carry this year. Permitless carry legislation would allow people to carry firearms, openly or concealed, in public places without a permit, criminal history check, or safety training, dismantling Florida’s system of responsible gun ownership. Instead of pushing dangerous policies that are proven to make communities less safe, Florida lawmakers should be working to advance common sense gun safety measures that will save lives.
While there is no one solution to end gun violence, Community Violence Intervention Programs play a key role in making cities safer. By utilizing a public health model, these community-led programs have been shown to reduce gun violence in some of the most heavily impacted neighborhoods. These programs are often uniquely situated to address violence in their communities, but they need support from policymakers in order to sustain and expand their life-saving work. Leaders and legislators must invest in these community-driven, evidence-based interventions.
In an average year over 2,800 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.