Pregnant woman and her unborn child gunned down outside a friend’s house. Father of nine found murdered in his own driveway Police detective ambushed, killed by gang member with assault rifle. Three people hit, one killed, in drive-by shooting. Four police officers shot with AK-47, one dies. Twenty-three-year-old corrections officer and her two-year-old son slaughtered when their home is sprayed with bullets.
Gunman opens fire on crowd of 50, killing two and wounding nine. Sixteen-year-old honor student shot and killed while riding his bicycle. Thirteen-year-old girl killed by gun on school bus. Twenty-four-year-old man shot to death on transit bus while frantic passengers flee.
All of us have heard the terrible accounts describing the deadly toll of gun violence in Miami-Dade County. It is time that we take the next steps that are needed to put an end to it.
The mass killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the Aurora, Colo., movieplex, the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin, and at Columbine High School in Denver are truly shocking and horrible. But day-after-day, week-after-week, year-after-year, the death toll from gun violence in our own community seems a never-ending nightmare.
There is no doubt that our community, as most of the country, has made tremendous progress in reducing crime rates, including violent crime, in the past 20 years. We have accomplished this amazing feat by combining tough and vigilant law enforcement with community-based initiatives aimed at crime prevention and by pro-actively addressing many of the community, family and individual dysfunctions that are the causes of criminal behavior. Certainly, there is much that remains to be done in all of these regards.
Now, it is time for the next step.
Foremost among the common sense actions that we need to reduce is the proliferation of, and easy access to, guns in our community. Our efforts will be most rewarded by focusing on reducing the availability of high powered, automatic assault weapons and high capacity ammunition.
I am calling upon my colleagues on the Board of County Commissioners to adopt a series of actions:
• Resolution urging the Florida Legislature to increase the penalty for possession of an AK-47 or other semi-automatic assault weapon during commission of a felony.
• Resolution urging the Legislature to increase criminal penalties for the use of assault weapon ammunition during the commission of a felony.
• Resolution urging Congress and the Legislature to ban the possession of high-capacity ammunition magazines by individuals who are not law enforcement and to require identification markings on newly manufactured high-capacity magazines.
• Resolution urging Congress and Legislature to require any purchaser of ammunition, except a law enforcement officer, to provide a driver’s license or other picture identification.
• Resolution urging Congress to require mandatory background checks of the purchasers of firearms from any licensed or unlicensed vendor or at gun shows.
• Resolution urging the Florida Legislature to permit local registration of privately-owned firearms.
These actions are consistent with proposals that are currently being considered in numerous major cities and jurisdictions throughout the United States, including New York City and Los Angeles. The Miami-Dade County Commission and Mayor Gimenez should do the same.
These proposed actions will come before the commission again on Jan. 23. I am asking for your support to help save lives and protect our residents, most importantly, our children. Please contact members of the commission and the mayor and let them know that you support these common sense actions.
If you would like more information about the specific resolutions proposed, you may view the details at www.miamidade.gov. This must be a collective effort. I’m willing to do my part. Please ask your commissioner to join me and be a part of the solution as well.
Barbara Jordan is a Miami-Dade County commissioner representing District 1.