Florida Democrat pushes expanded gun background checks in wake of airport shooting

A state senator in Florida is sponsoring a handful of gun control bills, citing last week’s airport shooting as a reason to introduce at least one of the measures.

State Sen. Gary Farmer says he plans to introduce a bill that would close the so-called gun show loophole in his state.

“Last week horror came to our state and to the Fort Lauderdale airport,” Farmer said, according to the Orlando Sentinel. “That horror came in the form of a deranged man who should’ve never been allowed to buy, own or in any way possess a dangerous firearm.”

Florida Carry Executive Director Sean Caranna says Farmer is just trying to capitalize on the airport shooting, which left five people dead and eight more injured.

“That really gets filed every year, and every year they run to the press and bring up whatever the latest gun tragedy du jour as the impetus for filing these perennial bills,” said Caranna, in an interview with Guns.com. “They either don’t even get called up in committee because they have no chance of passing, or they occasionally get called up to committee just so they can be publicly shot down.”

Democrats in Florida admit such measures will struggle to pass in the Sunshine State’s Republican-controlled Legislature. Still, they say it’s important to propose an alternative to Republican measures, one of which would end gun-free zones in the state. Republican state Sen. Greg Steube filed a bill that would allow Floridians with concealed carry permits to have their guns in places like airport terminals.

“Gun-free zones don’t prevent criminals from breaking the law and killing innocent victims,” said Steube, according to USA Today. “All that law did was prevent law-abiding citizens who have a concealed-carry permit from carrying their firearm in defense of themselves and others.”

“If Sen. Farmer really wanted to do something to make Florida safe, he would focus on abolishing gun-free-zones where law-abiding citizens are defenseless targets of terrorists and people with mental illness,” said Marion Hammer, Executive Director of United Sportsmen of Florida, according to Floridapolitics.com.

Sen. Farmer has signed on to sponsor two gun control bills so far in 2017. One would tighten requirements on the safe storage of firearms around minors. Under the proposal, guns that aren’t in a securely locked box or secured with a trigger lock in locations around minors, defined as someone 16 and younger, would result in a second-degree misdemeanor.

Senate Bill 142 changes the language in the state’s safe storage law, deleting this line: “This subsection does not apply if the minor obtains the firearm as a result of an unlawful entry by any person.”

“What the bill actually does, is it strikes a provision in the law that if someone breaks into your home and steals your gun, under his bill, you would go to jail,” said Caranna. “It’s obviously idiotic that we’re gonna punish gun owners who are the victims of crimes, rather than punish the criminals who commit crimes.”

Farmer is also co-sponsoring a bill that would ban the sale of so-called assault weapons and large capacity magazines in Florida.

“These are small but important steps that if passed will move Florida to a place where our families can live, play and work, and yes, travel to an airport safely, and without fear of being gunned down, or someone bearing arms and lurking around the corner,” said Farmer, according to a report from WBBH about the weapons ban.

Farmer told the TV station that the so-called assault weapons ban bill was planned before the shooting at the airport. Still, Caranna says Farmer’s gun control efforts are well-timed.

“They’re capitalizing on a tragedy, like they always do,” said Caranna. “Thankfully, we have more good legislators than bad legislators in Florida. And I don’t expect to have too much trouble with taking down such a foolhardy bill,” he said, talking about Farmer’s planned expanded background check measure.

Sen. Farmer did not return requests for comment by article publication.