The Florida Influencer Series

Gun violence: New laws need to close loopholes, create a database, and reform Stand Your Ground


THE QUESTION: How should Florida’s elected leaders build on the work of the last legislative session to reduce gun violence

Summary of the survey findings of 50 Influencers:

The Florida Influencers said the measures Gov. Rick Scott signed into law after the Parkland shooting were an important first step, but that lawmakers’ work to protect schools and students is far from complete. Nearly 80 percent said that while they supported recent gun law changes -- a higher minimum age to purchase some firearms, a ban on bump stocks and new mental health regulations -- state officials need to do more to fully address the problem of gun violence.

Nearly 15 percent went even further, calling the change in Florida’s laws an inadequate response to gun violence. None of the Influencers thought the laws were too restrictive and should be repealed. Less than 10 percent said that no further action on guns issues was required. In addition, close to 90 percent of the Influencers supported a ban on assault weapons such as the AR-15.

All told, more than 60 percent of the Influencers said they were either “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied” with how state legislators have handed gun issues, compared to only 19 percent who said they were either “satisfied” or “very satisfied.”

Statement summarizing the views of the working group regarding the issue:

The issues of gun violence cannot be separated from our cultural imperative in the State of Florida to value life and create an inclusive environment where people feel safe. We believe better databases need to be created and maintained to improve coordination and information.

Florida Influencers discuss guns in a breakout session on Tuesday, November 13, 2018 during the Florida Priorities Summit at the University of Miami. The Florida Influencer Series, is the beginning of a conversation among leaders, decision makers, and voters to put a sharp focus on a shared vision for Florida. PATRICK FARRELL

Potential solutions:

  • Close the following loopholes: 1. Require background checks for all private gun sales, 2. FDLE and Department of Agriculture should utilize a shared database to enhance coordination and streamline the process relating to issuance of concealed carry licenses. 3. Develop a comprehensive system to ensure that criminal and mental health records are put into the state and federal gun background check databases.

  • Create a statewide database of unlawful gun related activity to include the same information required to be reported under the FBI supplemental homicide reports.

  • Close the “boyfriend loophole.” Current federal and state laws barring convicted domestic abusers from having guns does not generally apply if the abuser has not been married to the victim or share a child. Florida should close this loophole and prohibit abusive dating partners from possessing firearms.

  • Reform the Stand your Ground law to clarify the language that immunity should not preclude an investigation and develop training materials for law enforcement officers on best practices for investigating stand your ground cases

Questions the new governor and legislature will need to answer to make progress on this issue:

  • There are three questions that will need to be explored to make progress to reduce gun violence:
  • What kind of image do we want our state to project?
  • What is the interplay between mental health issues and public safety?
  • Where will the funding come from to implement these recommendations?
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