Gun Rights Supporters, Gun Control Advocates Talk Session Victories, Disappointments

Jun 18, 2017
Originally published on June 16, 2017 7:15 pm

Gun rights supporters as well as gun control advocates are declaring victory over this year’s Florida legislative session. But, they’re marking some disappointments as well.

Sen. Rob Bradley (R-Fleming Island) says he’s happy to get a Stand Your Ground-related measure across the finish line.

“That has been a two year project, and it went down the wire,” he said. “I think that is one of the issues that I think that is one of the issues that I think are important to people’s constitutional rights—a fundamental constitutional rights issues that I’ve obviously been passionate about, and we got it done. And, I’m very pleased to have that accomplished.”

The new law changes the role of a prosecutor during a Stand Your Ground immunity hearing. Before the law, the accused could avoid a trial by proving to a judge their self-defense claim is justified during a pre-trial hearing. Now, the law shifts that burden to the prosecutor.

National Rifle Association’s Marion Hammer says she’s also happy about a bill signed into law that updates “an error” in the statute…where in your own home, you have to wait to be attacked before exercising force to protect yourself. This bill fixes it. It puts it back to the way the legislature originally intended it in 2005.”

So, Hammer says this new law—taking effect July 1st—states if someone enters your home unlawfully, you may presume they are there to do bodily harm and you may take action to defend yourself.

So, for Hammer, it was a great session.

“Well, I think the session was an enormous success for us,” she said. “We asked for two bills to be filed, they both passed, and they were both signed into law by the Governor.”

But, there were some disappointments for the NRA as well. Gun bills that died in committee included allowing concealed weapons permit holders to carry guns on college campuses and schools as well as airports.

“We are disappointed that those bills did not pass, but they were all good bills, and sooner or later, they will pass,” she added.

But, groups, like Moms Demand Action Against Gun Violence, declared victory over the demise of those bills.

“Well, I actually commended Governor Scott for that because I felt he truly understands the necessity of having safer gun laws within the state,” said Lucia McBath, a group member.

McBath is also the mother of Jordan Davis. He’s the Jacksonville teen who was fatally shot in a dispute over loud music. The man responsible had claimed self-defense.

That’s why McBath says after personally speaking to Governor Rick Scott, she was disappointed that he signed what she calls an “expansion of Stand Your Ground.”

“He even led me to believe that he’d been praying about the issue, but apparently, I think he probably crumbled under the influence of the NRA Gun lobby over his constituents, and it’s a sad day when Governor Scott can no longer you know care deeply about the implications of gun violence that this proportionately affects minorities in his very state and put the interests of the NRA gun lobby over the interests of his community,” she added.

McBath says not only will prosecutors be overwhelmed by the sudden spurt in cases, she predicts many deaths as well.

“And, I think in the long run, that is going to be his legacy when people continue to die unjustifiably under the expansion of that law,” McBath continued. “He will be faced with having to look in the eyes of all the number of family members and loved ones of those that are left behind.”

McBath says she’s especially saddened, given the one-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting that left 49 people dead and even more injured in Orlando.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.

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