With controversial gun legislation again proposed for Florida lawmakers to consider this spring, Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon told reporters Tuesday that the Legislature needs to do a better job of understanding the true reality of gun violence — as opposed to referencing hypothetical, Hollywood-inspired examples.
And he spoke from experience.
“My reality is a little different from their’s,” the Miami Gardens Democrat said, referring to his fellow legislators. “How many people have been in a club that got shot up? I can raise my hand and say that I have.”
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Braynon recounted several examples from his youth in Miami-Dade where he witnessed shootings — at two house parties on the same night, a movie theater showing of “Boyz n the Hood,” at a club with friends — or even as a student at Florida State University, when he said he had a gun pulled on him on a street-corner.
Braynon described the club incident, in particular, in vivid detail.
I’m talking about real, legit things that are happening. ... I’m talking about my neighborhood.
Florida Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens
He and some friends were at a club on 119th Street in Miami-Dade when a fight broke out, Braynon recalled.
“We decided to collect all of our friends and leave,” he said. They happened to leave right behind the second man involved with the fight — not knowing the first man was already outside waiting with a gun.
“So we all scatter,” Braynon said. “We lay behind the car, and the guy that was in the argument was in front of the car. He got shot.”
He continued: “And I was under the car, looking through the bottom of the car — and I saw the guy dying. He was clenching his fists and he ended up defecating on himself. I didn’t know that happened, but that happens when someone gets shot, a major trauma to the body. I saw that with my own eyes. I saw that.”
“So when people ask me: Where am I on guns? I talk about this type of reality,” Braynon said. “That’s the reality that I see; that’s the reality that the people in my community have seen.”
“When I talk about gun violence, I’m not talking about hunting. I’m not talking about this movie-thing that apparently some of my colleagues think about where it’s ‘Die Hard 2,’ ” he added. “I’m talking about real, legit things that are happening. ... I’m talking about my neighborhood.”
Braynon and other Democrats have proposed legislation this year to limit Florida’s gun laws, such as through banning concealed weapons in theaters and outlawing assault weapons. Meanwhile, conservative Republicans want to remove restrictions on gun-owners — and particularly concealed-weapons permit-holders — by expanding where and how they can carry their weapons.