Senator Tom Lee's plan to close the so-called "gun show loophole" and require background checks for private sales is already running into headwinds. Lee was tasked by the Senate President Bill Galvano to come up with ways to combat gun violence in Florida. His answer comes in the form of Senate Bill 7028. It was taken up Monday by the Senate's Infrastructure and Security Committee.
The plan requires universal background checks for all Florida gun purchases in public venues.
“This proposed committee bill is our best effort to try to improve public safety on the margins here in the state of Florida,” Lee said. “So, you know, we are trying as best we can to thread a needle here and do our job.”
The measure also requires medical personnel like emergency medical technicians (EMTs), paramedics, and other health care professionals to inform law enforcement if there are any concerns that a person might commit violent acts that harm or kill someone.
Among the supporters were members of the Florida chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America (M.A.D.).
“More background checks are always a good thing,” said Beth Dumond, a volunteer for M.A.D. “However, while we are encouraged by this move, we can’t overlook the fact that the gun market has changed.”
Dumond called the bill a “positive first step,” but says private gun sales don't just happen at gun shows.
The National Rifle Association is not impressed with Lee's bill. NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer said the proposal contains the “worst universal background check language” she has ever seen and argues it will restrict constitutional rights.
“If anyone votes in favor of this bill, it’s like a doctor giving a patient an antibiotic for a virus,” Hammer said. “The doctor knows it won’t cure the illness, but at least he can make people think he’s doing something and in my opinion, supporting a bill so you can say you are doing something is political eyewash. So if political eyewash is your cup of tea, this bill has a whole pot full of it in it. This bill is nothing less than gun control on steroids.”
"We'll see what the house does," said Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez. "The governor is very firm in his support of second amendment rights, but he's also shown he's willing to address important issues as it relates to the safety and well being of our children."