Community Voices

It’s time Washington restores federal ban on assault weapons

A member of the crowd holds up a sign to ban assault rifles during a vigil for the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting. The vigil was on the lawn of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orlando, Monday evening, June 13, 2016.
A member of the crowd holds up a sign to ban assault rifles during a vigil for the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting. The vigil was on the lawn of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orlando, Monday evening, June 13, 2016. emichot@miamiherald.com

Today my heart is heavy with pain because in the last couple of weeks, eight police officers have died at the hands of despicable individuals, people who have no place on this planet called Earth.

What is so frustrating is that we the “citizens” are being placed in the middle of this behavior, because it’s not just the police officers who are dying, it’s other innocent people as well.

Do you realize that since this time last year, there has been a 94 percent increase of police officers killed in the line of duty by firearms.

We are getting hurt by these “thugs” who are running around with AK-47s, Uzis and other semiautomatic assault weapons, weapons that not even the police have. And why do these individuals have these weapons? Well in part because on Sept. 13, 2004 the Federal Assault Weapons Ban expired. This ban was put in place by then-President Bill Clinton on Sept. 13, 1994. It outlawed 19 types of military-style assault weapons.

A clause directed that the ban expire unless Congress specifically reauthorized it, and our congressional leaders did not! Shame on them! These are the consequences we are now seeing across the country. As stated by many in the law enforcement community, these weapons are nothing more than “cop-killer guns.”

I always tell you that we need to get involved, we need to be part of this community and we must demand that our community be a safe place to live.

Well, here is your chance. In Florida, state law grants the attorney general (Pam Bondi) independent authority to regulate firearms, as part of the attorney general’s responsibility to protect the citizens.

In Florida, though, this authority has not been used. So we need to “demand” that this be done, as it has been done in other states. We need to ask our Congressional leaders where they stand on an assault weapons ban and whether they support one should it come up again for a vote.

We need to demand they look at the carnage happening in this country. Yes, readers, this is the time to get involved. Don’t get me wrong, I truly believe that everyone has the right to bear arms, but assault weapons?

I want to thank our Miami-Dade County commissioners for recently supporting the following legislation:

Resolution urging the United States Congress to reinstate the federal assault weapons ban; urging the Florida Legislature to impose a state assault weapons ban; alternatively, urging the Florida Legislature to lift the preemption on local governments’ regulation of assault weapons in Florida and allow local governments to impose an assault weapons ban

I sincerely hope I have reached some of you in getting involved, because I know that many communities are suffering from “a heavy heart,” just as I am.

Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to carmen@citizenscrimewatch.org, or call her at 305-470-1670.

Who to contact

▪ Miami-Dade County State Legislative Delegation: 305-375-5600

South Florida U.S. House members

▪ Carlos Curbelo, 305-220-0160

▪ Mario Diaz-Balart, 305-470-8555

▪ Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, 305-668-5970

▪ Frederica Wilson, 305-690-5905

Florida U.S. Senate members

▪ Bill Nelson, 305-536-5999

▪ Marco Rubio, 305-418-8553

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