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Fla. House District Nine Candidates Talk Guns; Ausley Regrets 'Stand Your Ground' Vote


Loranne Ausley says if she could change her vote on Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law, she would.

“Frankly this is one of those decisions that keeps me up at night," she says. "There are very few votes that I question, and that is one.”

Now, she’s seeking reelection for the Florida House of Representatives in District Nine, but other candidates are battling for the seat, too.

Ausley voted for the law during her time as a state representative from 2000 to 2008. The law justifies using deadly force in a life-threatening situation or in the case of a home or car invasion.

But since recent acts of gun violence throughout the country, Ausley is regretting her decision.

“It was presented to us as a … very emotional property rights law, and it has been completely misapplied," she says. "If I had to do it over again, I would certainly not vote for it.”

She joins Democrats Arnitta Grice-Walker and Josh Johnson for the Florida House District Nine race.

There’s also one Republican running for the seat: Jim Messer. He says discussions on issues like Stand Your Ground and concealed and open carry are difficult, but they need to continue among legislators.

“We need to look carefully at gun ownership in this country," Messer says. "We need to balance and be careful with what we do Constitutionally between the right to own one and the right to be safe from people who have them as well.”

Meanwhile, Democrat Grice-Walker – who says she served in the military – calls for more extensive training for private gun owners.

“When you open something up and you tell everybody you can have this, and they have it and they don’t have the proper training that they need, then that’s where we run into problems,” Grice-Walker says.

Finally Johnson, a self-described “progressive,” says the solution involves mental health legislation and better gun regulation.

“It has to be harder to purchase a gun, and we’ve got to invest in mental health," Johnson says. "When we see the disparities of people who commit these heinous crimes on both ends, there usually is some stem of a mental health concern that could’ve been caught at the crux, but it wasn’t.”

The four candidates joined the last episode of WFSU’s Political Perspectives Wednesday. Listen to the podcast here.

For more news updates, follow Tori Whitley on Twitter: @victoriahart2.