Dozens of gun safety advocates gathered at the Florida Capitol Tuesday to pressure state lawmakers to reject a raft of bills loosening gun restrictions.
Mothers from across Florida spent the day lobbying the Republican-led Legislature to oppose NRA-backed measures that would allow weapons into public places. The volunteers with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense and Everytown for Gun Safety met with lawmakers to make the case for what they call common sense gun laws.
They touted new polling data from an Everytown survey showing majorities of Floridians are opposed to guns in government meetings, K-12 schools, college campuses and airport terminals. An equal proportion of Republicans, Democrats and independents were polled, according to the Miami Herald.
Michelle Gajda, the Florida chapter leader of Moms Demand Action, says her group opposes many of the bills filed.
“The way we believe we can save the most lives is by opposing the expansion of ‘Stand Your Ground,' opposing guns on campus, opposing guns in elementary, middle and high schools and making sure business owners have the right to determine whether or not they want weapons on their own property,” Gajda says.
The campaign was backed by powerful messengers. Fred and Maria Wright joined the group at the Capitol. Last June, their 31-year-old son Jerry was one of 49 people gunned down in the Pulse nightclub attack. But in their grief, a new resolve was born. Fred Wright says it is now his mission to push for legislation that would prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands.
“We really feel strongly about this. In the case of our son, if we were able to keep those guns away from the bad people, he would be alive. But instead, people are thinking that more guns into more hands in more places is the solution, " Wright says. "And that’s not the solution, not at all. We should find some way of [doing] background checks or things that will keep the guns away from the bad people.”
Republican lawmakers argue that if law-abiding citizens could carry guns, they would be able to defend themselves and others in a mass shooting. The Wrights, however, do not believe their son could have defended himself. They cite the chaos that broke out in the dark and crowded nightclub. Maria Wright says confronting and bringing an end to gun violence is not a Republican nor a Democratic issue, but an American issue.
Correction: The story originally referred to one of the Pulse victim's parents as Frank Wright. His name is Fred Wright.