February 15, 2018
Honorable Joe Negron
President, The Florida Senate
Honorable Richard Corcoran
Speaker, The Florida House of Representatives
Dear President Negron and Speaker Corcoran:
Today, Florida is once again living through a nightmare that could have been prevented. Floridians woke up this morning to images and stories of school children being terrorized by a 19-year old who came to his former high school with one purpose: to bring mass harm to his peers.
We immediately heard the cry for help and the flow of thoughts and prayers flooded social media and the airwaves. But quite frankly, we need more than thoughts and prayers–we need immediate policy changes that can have an immediate deterrence of these tragic incidents.
Floridians are grappling with some basic facts, such how an 18-year old would have been able to buy an assault rifle. Let that sink in: an assault rifle, which by its very name aims to “assault,”–and the same rifle, the AR-15, that was used in 2016 during the horrific Pulse shooting. We also hear of legislation making its way through our legislative session that would weaken background checks, allow guns on college campuses and efforts to weaponize our schools. These policies are simply disgusting and only serve to undermine our public safety.
Further, the Legislature’s endless obsession with pre-empting local mayors and city commissioners from enacting sensible policies in their local communities has tied the hands of those who are closest to the people.
Therefore , I urge you to immediately suspend the above-referenced legislation from moving forward in Tallahassee and redirect efforts to swiftly enact sensible and responsible gun reforms this year. A number of your colleagues have filed legislation, which is currently being disregarded.
Though it was ignored after it was sent following the Pulse shooting, I have attached a resolution I signed in 2016 that was passed by the Miami Beach City Commission as a blueprint of what the Florida Legislature can do today. To reiterate, I urge you to pass emergency legislation that includes, but not limited to:
- Reversing the pre-emption of local governments regarding responsible gun reforms.
- Ban on semi-automatic and assault rifles.
- Swift background checks.
- Review of mental health funding and appropriate measures to match access to gun ownership.
- Review access points for gun purchases in Florida
We know that, through national surveys, a majority of the American public, including legal gun owners support extensive background checks for gun owners and eliminating access to dangerous use of military grade, high capacity magazine assault weapons.
In less than 60 days, there have been at least 7 school shootings. Since 2 0 10 , we have faced at least 14 incidents of gun violence at Florida schools. We can all agree that gun violence is a pervasive, national issue that is exacerbated by the availability of semi-automatic assault weapons. The question now is: what do we do?
It’s time for swift and immediate change. With the Legislature in session for another three weeks, you have time to act and show Floridians that you in fact are tuned in to the realities families are facing today.
On behalf of Floridians looking for their elected leaders to lead with determination and courage, I urge you to act now.
Former Mayor of Miami Beach
Honorable Oscar Braynon Senate Democratic Leader
Honorable Janet Cruz House Democratic Leader