Florida now officially has a Republican-backed universal background check bill in play.
Sen. Tom Lee of the Senate’s Committee on Infrastructure and Security brought up SPB 7028 yesterday. The committee is made up of eight members, five Republicans and three Democrats. The committee voted unanimously for SPB 7028 and passed the proposal except for one Senator who walked out, making it an official bill.
I was unable to attend in person due to pressing family issues, but the NRA was there, represented by Marion Hammer. Moms Demand Action members were there, too.
For the second election year in a row, a Florida GOP-led Senate panel defies the @NRA and advances a bill to tighten the state’s loophole-riddled background check system that allows people with questionable records to obtain guns via @lmower3 https://t.co/YlDIY1E9jG
— Mary Ellen Klas (@MaryEllenKlas) January 13, 2020
This bill is Senate President Galvano’s pride and joy. As I noted earlier, Sen. Galvano tasked Sen. Tom Lee to look at ways to “stop mass shootings.” This is the result.
It started as a proposed committee bill. That means it wasn’t introduced by a single Senator and instead was the creation of the committee itself. The glossary of the FL State Senate states a proposed committee bill is a “proposal that may represent a mandated review, repeal scheduled by law, or, with the Senate President’s prior approval, an additional subject of broad committee significance as determined by the committee chair. When the idea is expanded, is drafted in bill form, receives a favorable vote by the committee, and is filed, it becomes a bill.“
PROPOSED BILL by Infrastructure and Security
Public Safety; Requiring emergency medical technicians and paramedics to disclose certain confidential communications to law enforcement agencies to communicate a threat under certain circumstances; requiring specified licensees, rather than psychiatrists, to disclose certain confidential communications to law enforcement agencies to communicate a threat under certain circumstances; authorizing a person who is not a licensed importer, a licensed manufacturer, or a licensed dealer and who chooses to not use a licensed importer, a licensed manufacturer, or a licensed dealer to facilitate a private sale of his or her firearm to sell the firearm if he or she complies with specified requirements, etc.
This bill does the following.
- Requires that during a private sale, the seller would be required to check the person’s ID to make sure they’re legally allowed to own the weapon and fill out a form recording the transaction.
- The form would include a list of questions for the buyer, such as whether they’re a felon, a fugitive from justice, or have anything else in their history that would prevent them from owning a gun. The seller would then confirm that they have “no knowledge or reason to believe that the purchaser is of unsound mind.” The form would have to be witnessed and signed by a notary public, but the bill doesn’t require the seller to do anything with the form.
- Sen. Lee said it would be in the seller’s “best interests” to hold on to the form indefinitely, “should this weapon ultimately get used in the commission of a crime.”
- Not filling out the forms would be a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail.
- Requires that loaded firearms be securely stored to prevent anyone under the age of 18 from accessing them. The current age in the law is 16. The penalty is still a second-degree misdemeanor, carrying up to 60 days in jail.
- Requires that loaded firearms also be kept securely stored to prevent anyone of “unsound mind” from accessing them. The penalty is also second-degree misdemeanor.
- Requires paramedics and other emergency medical workers to report to police people who are a danger to themselves or the public. The provision currently exists for mental health workers.
- Assigns the Florida Department of Law Enforcement with creating a statewide “threat assessment” system to prevent active shooters and assigns the department 37 full-time positions and nearly $6 million.
SPB 7028 passed over the strong objections of the NRA’s Hammer (NRA), who called it . . .
“nothing less than gun control on steroids.” – Tampa Bay Times
The Committee Chair, Sen. Tom Lee answered this way . . .
“I empathize that any time somebody breaks the law, we come in and pass something, and law-abiding citizens are imposed upon. I get it, this committee bill is our best effort to try to improve public safety on the margins here, it is not a perfect system. I know that you don’t see NRA members in the headlines of these mass shootings. But we have a job to do. We can’t just sit by idly while our children are killing children and pretend this isn’t happening.” – Tampa Bay Times
When the bill came to a vote, Sen. Aaron Bean (R) walked out while rest of the committee voted unanimously to forward the bill to the Senate floor.
This bill lacks a companion measure in the House. Sen. Lee said House leaders are “well aware we’re working on this.” since this is a Senate measure and is Senate President Galvano’s top priority.
Sen. Galvano, by the way, took $200,000 from Michael Bloomberg last year.
As for getting a bill going in the House, Sen. Lee stated . . .
“Frankly, a lot of this is going to happen president-to-speaker and work down from there. But they’re very well aware that this is a priority for the president.” – WUSF Public Media
Governor Ron DeSantis has expressed a lack of support for the bill.
DeSantis appeared skeptical of the proposal to close the gun-show “loophole” by requiring background checks and a three-day waiting period for firearms sold at gun shows, saying screenings are already being performed by “anyone selling firearms at any of those tables.”“So, when they say that to me, I don’t really know what it is. I know there are talking points, but the fact of the matter is that anyone who is selling firearms is going to have to do background checks, unless it’s just a private sale. But you’re not going to have a table at a gun show on a private sale,” the Republican governor told reporters Tuesday. – CBS 12 News West Palm Beach
Additionally, it appears that Speaker of the House Jose Oliva isn’t a fan of Sen. Galvano’s and Michael Bloomberg’s love child either.
Oliva seemed even more dubious, telling reporters that the House is “always very careful when we in any way start to infringe on those things that people consider their constitutional rights.”
“If you talked to the sheriffs around the state, they will tell you that our red-flag laws that we passed before they were even named red-flag laws after Parkland have already saved lives. These are the areas that we have to be looking to. There is no proof that a person’s ability to get a weapon affects their ability to use it. And so we have to be very careful when we once again look to trample on people’s constitutional rights,” Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, said. – CBS 12 News West Palm Beach
Sen. Galvano is of course defending his political homunculus.
When asked about the difficulty in reaching a compromise on the always-thorny issue of guns, given the positions expressed by Oliva and DeSantis, Galvano acknowledged that “a give and take” exchange of ideas is part of the legislative process.
“And it’s incumbent upon the sponsors of bills and members of bodies to explain and to make the correct arguments,” Galvano said. “If you would have said to me three years ago that we were going to do what we did two years ago in the wake of Parkland, I would have said, boy, that’s going to be a really difficult lift in the Legislature I’ve lived in for many, many years.”- CBS 12 News West Palm Beach
We’ll be watching how far this gun rights disaster gets. Stay tuned.