Minority Office — Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 5, 2017
Senator Linda Stewart,
Senator Linda Stewart Files Gun Safety Legislation
Honors Promise to Act on Behalf of Pulse Survivors in Her District
This afternoon in front of the Orange County Courthouse, state Senator Linda Stewart made good on a promise she made to the families, victims and survivors of one of the worst mass slayings in American history a few short blocks away at Pulse Nightclub, by filing a gun safety bill that would ban the sale of civilian versions of military assault weapons and the high capacity magazines that make them so lethal.
Standing with Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith - Florida’s first openly-LGBT Latino lawmaker – the Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, the League of Women Voters, and survivors of that tragic night, Senator Stewart announced the filing of SB254, legislation that would ensure that the 49 souls lost in the massacre last June were not in vain, but a call to action.
“We have a responsibility to act,” said the Orlando Democrat. “If not now when? There is no legitimate reason whatsoever to own these types of weapons; we’re not taking anybody’s guns away and we’re not infringing on anybody’s right to hunt or protect themselves in their home. We need to start getting control of the things we can, and do commonsense things to prevent what happened at Pulse from ever being repeated.”
Co-sponsored by Senator Gary Farmer and, in the House as HB 167, by Rep. Guillermo Smith, SB 254, is intended to prevent weapons specifically designed to deliver high rates of lethal semiautomatic fire without the need to pause and reload from falling into the hands of people like Omar Mateen, who carried out the Pulse nightclub attack. The ban would not apply to guns already purchased in Florida.
Despite twice drawing the scrutiny of the FBI, Mateen was cleared by authorities to legally purchase a Sig Sauer MCX rifle, which is similar to the weapons used in the Sandy Hook Elementary and Aurora slayings. During the Pulse siege, Mateen continued to hunt and kill patrons who had sought refuge in bathrooms but remained trapped for hours as police were held at bay outside the nightclub’s walls.
“Very simply, Florida’s gun laws are woefully inadequate to protect our children and families,” said Senator Farmer. “We have seen year after year senseless and increasing deaths caused by assault weapons. Just last year 49 people were gunned down within minutes in Orlando because a suspected terrorist was allowed to purchase assault weapons. This has to stop. This bill would ensure that dangerous weapons with no connection to hunting or sportsmanship may not be purchased in Florida. I hope that my fellow legislators will recognize the need for this overdue legislation.”