Pensacola, Florida
Tuesday September 17th 2019

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Outtakes—Rinse, Reload, Repeat

By Rick Outzen

After mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso, many hoped that federal and state lawmakers would do something about gun reform, but yet again, any meaningful legislation to curb gun violence has stalled, even though voters want it.

Last week, we polled 547 likely voters in Florida’s First Congressional District and found strong support of universal background checks —81%. Only 13% said they didn’t support the checks, and 4.9% were undecided.

When asked whether they supported including the purchaser’s social media, such as Facebook and Twitter accounts, in the background checks, 57.2% of the respondents approved.  Another 52.3% supported banning the purchase of military assault rifles.

Our district isn’t the only one demanding more gun safety. A Fox News poll found broad support for requiring background checks on all gun buyers (90%) and a 67% majority that favored banning assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons.

Voters say it’s time for meaningful reforms. Unfortunately, Republican leaders don’t agree, and what the majority wants isn’t translating to legislation.

After 31 people were killed in El Paso and Dayton, President Trump expressed support for strengthening background checks, but then he appeared to back off the issue. Most recently, the president said he plans to fill in “some of the loopholes” in the background checks, which may or may not include universal checks involving all transactions, including personal gun sales.

In early August, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that strengthening background checks and red flag laws would “lead the discussion” on addressing gun violence, but he now appears to have changed his mind on pushing for any gun reforms while the president continues to send mixed messages.

In Tallahassee, Democrats wanted at a special session to discuss background checks for the transfer of all firearms, prohibitions on the sale and possession of large-capacity magazines, revisions to requirements about in-home weapon storage, an expansion of the state’s “red-flag” law that allows judges to order the removal of guns from individuals who pose a danger to themselves or others and the creation of an “Urban Core Gun Violence Task Force.”

House Republicans have killed the effort. In straight party-line votes, 56 House Republicans voted against the special session proposal, making it impossible for the Democrats to reach the required 60% support.

The political formula for lawmakers appears to express sympathy for the victims of our massacres, let the public outrage die down and keep collecting checks from the pro-gun lobby. Then wait for the next mass shooting and repeat.