An analysis of gun policy, highlighting Florida's policies.
Image Credit: Flickr
Gun reform tends to be a prominent issue in the political world, and a divisive one at that. Most Gen Z remembers when the Sandy Hook shooting happened. I was in 5th grade. I remember my class planted a garden as a memorial for it. The ringing sentiment was “thoughts and prayers.”
As I got older, these tragedies happened over and over again — eventually closer to home. Here’s a brief timeline of shootings and federal/state/local legislation addressing gun access.
In 2016, when the Pulse Nightclub shooting occurred, it truly hit close to home. The nightclub was about a 25-minute drive from my house.
With the recent anniversary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, a lot of these somber feelings have come back to the surface.
Groups such as Everytown, Moms Demand Action, and March For Our Lives have been demanding change for years.
State Policy: Florida
In the 2022 Florida legislative session, Senator Tina Polsky proposed a bill entitled Sale, Transfer, or Storage of Firearms. Polsky’s bill sought to require storage for a firearm when it is within easy access to a minor. Polsky has emphasized her value of common sense gun laws.
During the current legislative session, a bill for permitless carry was introduced. This feels out of touch with the countless mass shootings that have occurred in Florida.
Permitless carry continued to progress through committees. Many people have noted that Governor Ron DeSantis has been pushing this policy to appeal to his conservative base for his much-speculated presidential run. As of April 3rd, this bill was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis. This was a few days following a shooting in Nashville.
The argument from the other side tends to be that they want guns to protect their loved ones. But common sense laws like the one proposed by Senator Polsky would protect our loved ones.
It feels nearly impossible to place minor gun restrictions, making policy measures such as banning assault rifles a piece of imagination.
JR Galliot, who ran for the Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, highlighted on his platform that requiring gun liability insurance would force insurance companies to lobby for gun safety. Innovative solutions such as these demonstrate the need to shift the current Florida political system.
In June of 2022, the Safer Communities Act was passed. This bill has been noted as the most significant gun legislation passed since 1994. While it is great to see the passage of this legislation, there is a need to be more significant policy measures.
Local Policy: Gainesville
Earlier this year the Gainesville City Commission declared gun violence a crisis. The city has defined immediate tactics to include reducing the proliferation of illegal guns, The Lock Your Car Campaign, and Minimizing the number of illegal guns in circulation Gun Bounty Program. It is significant that even on the local level we are defining gun violence as a crisis and addressing it with policy.
February 14th, 2018
Every February 14th, the friends and family of the students who passed in the Parkland shooting have to be reminded of that pain. How could our lawmakers not make a change toward gun reform?
Acknowledging the political climate of Florida, common sense gun laws such as lockbox requirements seem the most we could even attempt to push. We need to find a way to make common-sense gun laws bipartisan.
In New Zealand, the country wasted no time in implementing gun reform. In 2019, a shooting stole the lives of 51 Muslim worshippers. Within weeks, the government banned semi-automatic firearms. I can’t imagine this occurring within the United States, political system.
Hard to Find Hope
I am not going to sugarcoat it: with the topic of gun violence, it is really difficult to find a positive note, especially with the political behavior of the Florida legislature. We need to be intentional and invest in marginalized communities. It may be difficult to see gun reform implementation in Florida, but investments in underfunded communities can transform lives. Everytown notes a few notable solutions: Violence Intervention Programs, Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Assistance Funding, prevent gun trafficking, and repeal restrictions on gun trace data. Violence intervention programs provide comprehensive education to vulnerable communities and have been shown to reduce gun violence. VOCA funding provides federal funding for survivors of gun violence. No substantial federal policy is in place to prevent gun tracking, indicating a gap in public policy. The Tiahrt Amendment has limited the police’s ability to prosecute gun crimes, repealing restrictions would improve the law enforcement’s ability to prosecute.
I did not know this in 5th grade, but we need to invest in our communities and craft intentional policies that activate change. We don’t need less restrictive gun laws. The question is, how can we transform United States political institutions?
Paulina is an Online Writer for Rowdy Magazine. She probably is listening to Taylor Swift and she can be found at Lib West most days (basically every day).