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State Democrats Continue To Push For Increased Gun Restrictions

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In the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history in Las Vegas, some Florida lawmakers continue to push for increased gun control.

Bills by Orlando Democrats Sen. Linda Stewart and Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith seek to outlaw the sales of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in the state of Florida.

Stewart’s proposed Senate Bill 196 was filed Sept. 22 and is currently in a subcommittee in the legislature. Until the Las Vegas massacre, her Orlando district was home to the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history at the Pulse Nightclub.

“The simple fact that we’re setting records for these types of tragedies once a year is quite clearly and obviously a problem,” Stewart said, who filed the same bill in January that died in the Judiciary Committee.

Stewart told WUFT News in an email that she realizes simply banning assault weapons and magazines won’t stop all future mass shootings, but it’s a start.

“Making it more difficult for people to purchase weapons designed specifically for combat – weapons that no hunter needs for sport and no homeowner needs for protection – is quite clearly and obviously a solution to that problem,” she said.

Opponents of the bill like Jack Pickett, owner of Harry Beckwith Guns and Range, said talk of gun restrictions will actually boost his sales and inflate prices. He said it happens every time a gun control bill is proposed following a mass shooting.

“What we’re going to see is an incredible run on high-capacity magazines,” Pickett said. “We’re going to see inflated prices on high capacity-magazines and then once the ban actually goes into effect, we’re not going to see any reduction in sales whatsoever.”

Local gun owner and collector Larry Boels, who was raised around hunting and shooting with a variety of guns from a young age, said he doesn’t believe these bills would prevent gun violence.

“Even if they ban them, they’re still going to be plenty out there,” Boels said. “It’s the criminals involved that become the problem, not the gun.”

Both bills face tough roads ahead at the state capitol. They’ll have to pass through committees and both the Republican-controlled House and Senate before they are signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott.

Stewart said she realizes there’s almost no chance her bill becomes law, but will keep refiling it until some type of action is taken.

“I think it’s important for people who think their state government doesn’t hear them to know that, in spite of the power and the money and the clout the NRA has, that we do care,” she said. “If each senator will put aside partisan politics for the sake of what they knew in their hearts to be best for Florida, there’s no reason we can’t come together to make gun safety a reality.”

About Ramsey Touchberry

Ramsey is a reporter for WUFT who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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