A year after the Republican-led Legislature reduced access to guns following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas tragedy, Florida Democrats have unveiled an assortment of bills and proposals to further reduce gun violence.
They’ve already introduced more than half-a-dozen measures in advance of the 2019 spring legislative session. And at a press conference at the Capitol on Tuesday, Democrats introduced additional proposals so fresh that they have yet to be completely drafted into bills.
One measure would require a person convicted of a misdemeanor offense of domestic violence to surrender all firearms and ammunition in their possession to law enforcement.
“The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that a woman will be murdered,” says State House Representative Anna Eskamani, who represents part of Orange County and is sponsoring the measure.
“And of more than half of women murdered with guns in the U.S. in 2010, at least 54 percent were killed by an intimate partner or family members,” Eskamani says. “Enough is enough. The lives of Floridians, especially women’s lives, are on the line.”
Senator Lori Berman, representing part of Palm Beach County, also is sponsoring that measure.
Representive Tina Polsky, also representing part of Palm Beach County, is currently drafting a bill that would tighten safe storage requirements for firearms.
If passed, the bill would require a licensed dealer to issue written materials about the law’s demands that guns must be stored safely at all times — not just when a juvenile is present, as is the current law.
And the bill will call for the gun to be secured through either a locking mechanism or a safe.
“We believe that this requirement could be the difference between life and death in a domestic violence situation, for example, where a gun is not immediately accessible,” Polsky said.
She also cited the disturbing number of toddlers shooting siblings or themselves. “Clearly, the current law is not strong enough, otherwise these deaths would be prevented.”
Winter Park Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, serving part of Orange County, said he’ll soon introduce a bill prohibiting individuals convicted of a misdemeanor-level hate crime from buying or purchasing a gun.
Though Democrats’ proposals may be popular with the public, the GOP-led Legislature may not act on any of them. Yet Democrats remain optimistic.
“The reality is that there are so many (proposals) for them to choose from,” Smith said when asked about the odds.
“Many of the ideas that have been introduced are new bills that we’ve never filed before, so we have a lot of educating to do and a lot of meeting with lawmakers and stakeholders that we look forward to.”
Representative Dotie Joseph, serving part of Miami-Dade County, reached out to her Republican colleagues to have an open heart about the proposals.
“You have the capability to do something, now,” she said to GOP lawmakers. “You were elected to represent the people in your district. Nobody is saying you can’t have your guns. Nobody is saying any of that. We’re saying it’s time for some common sense legislation to protect us.”