Weakening Florida's Gun Laws
The release of the Department of Justice report on the Uvalde school shooting is a sobering reminder of the limitations of addressing gun violence after the fact. Prevention --- keeping the guns out of the hands of people who use them to kill others or themselves --- is the best strategy for preventing gun violence based on numerous studies. In Florida, it took the deaths of 17 students and teachers at a Parkland high school in 2018 for the legislature to tighten the state's historically lax gun laws. Since then, every session has brought another effort to weaken these laws. And the 2024 session is no different.
Everytown for Gun Safety currently ranks Florida 22 among states in the strength of its gun laws based on a review of 50 key policies. Nearly 30 school shootings have occurred in the state since 2008. Florida's rate of gun violence hovers at the national average (14.4 deaths for every 100,000 residents). Experts advocate for a public health approach to addressing gun violence and point to progress made by states that have adopted laws regulating access to guns and gun safety measures. Ending gun violence is one of BAM's 2024 Legislative Priorities.
Florida lawmakers, spurred on by the NRA, are once again considering the elimination of major provisions of the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Act and other laws aimed at preventing gun violence. As proposed, HB 1223 would lower the age to purchase firearms to 18, undoing one of the life-saving provisions of the Act. This means 18 to 20-year-olds would be allowed to purchase semi-automatic rifles, such as AR-15s and other assault weapons, and also permit them to purchase handguns from unlicensed sellers with no background check. This is even though 18 to 20-year-olds commit gun homicides at triple the rate of adults 21 years and older, firearms are the leading cause of death among this age group, and the firearm suicide rate for 18 to 20-year-olds has increased by 41% in the last decade, according to advocates. Additional bills have been filed to eliminate the three-day waiting period for gun purchases, and allow purchasers to take possession of guns before completion of a background check (HB 17 and SB 1124).
Moms Demand Action will rally in Tallahassee this week to stave off efforts to weaken the state's gun laws and promote further legislation to strengthen gun safety, including safe storage of weapons in cars and boats. Take action now to support their advocacy! Two area legislators -- Beaches representative Kiyan Michael and Jessica Baker, representing Jacksonville District 17 --- sit on the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee which is slated to hear HB 1223, along with other gun-related legislation. Click on their names and feel free to adapt these emails telling them you strongly oppose efforts to lower the age to purchase firearms and other provisions that eliminate key parts of the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Act. Voice your support for bills (SB 1250 and HB 1087) that require safe storage of guns in vehicles and boats. Oppose efforts to allow open carry and possession of guns in voting precincts and other places where they are currently banned (HB 1619). Find the complete list of 2024 legislative priorities for Moms Demand Action here.
Get Out the (Environmental) Vote
Find out what the Climate Action Now and the Environmental Voter Project are doing to highlight President Biden's climate action accomplishments and support his re-election by attending this special virtual meeting on Tuesday, January 30 at 7 p.m. These two organizations will be central to educating climate voters about the importance of this election and giving them the info they need to vote. Hear how they plan to do this—and how you can help. The featured speaker is Nathaniel Stinnett of the Environmental Voter Project. The moderator is one of our favorite pundits, Jess Craven. Register for the free event here.
Save the Date!
BAM will join Indivisible Mandarin in hosting a conversation with Florida U.S. Senate candidate Debbie Mucarsel-Powell on Thursday, March 14 at 7 p.m. via Zoom. DMP, as she is known, will share her priorities and game plan for defeating Rick Scott, the GOP incumbent and former governor. Scott, labeled "one of the least popular Florida politicians" among voters in the state, is seeking his second term in the Senate.
Interesting Reads & A Video (!) for the Week
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Only 288 days until the 2024 election!