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House Democrats call for Special Session on gun violence

The Florida House Democratic caucus on Tuesday called for a Special Legislative Session “to address the epidemic of gun violence in our state.”

“The people of Florida deserve …to live in cities free from the plague of daily gun violence,” said Rep. Javier Fernández, a Coral Gables Democrat, on behalf of the caucus.

“They deserve to attend gatherings, schools, and houses of worship without a looming fear for their lives and the lives of their loved ones,” he added. “And they deserve a Legislature who will do all it can to protect them.

“It’s too late for those impacted by gun violence yesterday, but if we act quickly we can stem this tide and save lives.”

The call is unlikely to succeed, however: Republicans outnumber Democrats in the House 73-47, and in the state Senate 23-17.

A request for comment to House Speaker José Oliva, a Miami Lakes Republican, is pending.

Senate President Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican, “does not support calling a Special Session,” said Katie Betta, his spokeswoman.

His “memo to Senators earlier this month reflects his view on how the Senate should proceed with addressing these serious issues,” she added.

The call would include the following, according to a press release from the caucus:

— Require background checks for the transfer of all firearms.

— Prohibit the sale, transfer or possession of large capacity magazines.

— Reduce the duration of licenses required to carry concealed firearms.

— Revise requirements for the safe storage of weapons in the home.

— Expand the number of individuals that can petition a court for a risk-protection order where a gun owner is believed to be a risk to themselves or others.

— Establish an Urban Core Gun Violence Task Force focused on reducing day-to-day gun violence.

By Florida law, if 20 percent of the 160-member Legislature — 32 lawmakers — send letters to the Secretary of State requesting a Special Session, then a poll of the entire body is conducted.

At that point, three-fifths of both chambers — 96 members — must vote ‘yes’ for a Special Session to be called.

As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 20 percent of members had sent letters, according to the House Democrats.

“The majority of Floridians want to see common-sense reforms to our state’s gun laws, but year after year the Legislature refuses to take the action necessary to save lives,” their press release said.

“Members of the House Democratic caucus consistently file bills to improve our gun laws, but they rarely receive a committee hearing, quietly failing without ever garnering the attention and discussion this issue deserves.”

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