Gun safety advocates presented boxes of petitions signed by more than 8,000 Floridians to state leaders on Monday to show support for legislation that would require criminal background checks in all gun sales.
The group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America brought the petitions to the offices of Senate President Bill Galvano and House Speaker Jose Oliva.
Floridians overwhelmingly support requiring background checks for all gun buyers. A 2018 Quinnipiac poll showed that 96 percent support such checks. Yet proposals to close loopholes that exempt private gun sales from background checks are going nowhere in the Legislature.
While Florida does require background checks for people who buy a gun in a store, anyone can buy a gun from an online seller without facing a background check. A study released in February by the group Everytown for Gun Safety found more than 90,000 ads online for guns in Florida where online sellers didn’t ask for background checks.
“We just want to keep guns out of the hands of people with dangerous histories – convicted felons, domestic abusers, people who have been adjudicated to being mentally incompetent to own a firearm,” said Kate Kile, a member of the Tallahassee chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “Background checks are not intrusive. They’re generally instant for 90 percent of the people who go through them. We don’t feel that it’s an enormous burden.”
South Florida Democrat Lauren Book is sponsoring the bill in the Senate, and Sarasota Democrat Margaret Good has a similar bill in the House, neither of which have had a committee hearing.
Good’s bill has been sitting the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee since before the session began. Committee chairman Jamie Grant told the Phoenix in February that such background checks are “effectively a gun registry” and said he wouldn’t support bringing it up for debate.
“I don’t think a background check is the same as a gun registry,” said Kile of Moms Demand Action.
Florida legislators passed a school safety bill a year ago that included some regulations on purchasing firearms, including a three-day waiting period before a buyer can get a gun, and raising the age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21.
Before the legislative session began, Senate President Bill Galvano said that he didn’t see any appetite to return to the issue in this year’s session.
“We feel that they’re not listening to us,” Kile said as the reason for submitting the signatures. The petitions come at the same time that a proposal that would allow school teachers to carry firearms on school campuses continues to move through the Legislature.