It is no secret that many people in Florida cherish the Second Amendment, and their right to keep and bear arms to protect themselves and their families. With recent talk buzzing around the Senate considering new gun legislation, it will be up to Republicans like Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio to ensure that whatever legislation is proposed, is based on common sense and does not restrict the constitutional rights that we hold so dear.
Mass shootings have once again resurfaced as our country returns to normal following last year’s pandemic, are as horrifying as they are tragic. However, the actions of a sick and twisted few cannot be allowed to strip away the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans. With Democrats controlling both chambers of Congress and the White House, the unfortunate reality is that some gun related legislation is likely to pass.
It is crucial that Republicans in the Senate pressure Democrats to focus on repairing loopholes in current gun laws and not on depriving Americans of their constitutional right to bear arms. One potential loophole that needs repair, and is quite popular among the majority of Republicans, myself included, revolves around background checks for gun sales between strangers.
Currently, Federal law requires that licensed firearms dealers conduct background checks on all sales in order to ensure that a potential buyer is not legally prohibited from purchasing a firearm. Federal law does not require the same from unlicensed sellers. This glaring loophole means anyone can sell one or more firearms to a complete stranger – including criminals – while knowing nothing about them.
This loophole led to the horrific tragedy that occurred in Midland and Odessa, Texas in 2019, where a deranged shooter killed seven people and wounded 25 more. The perpetrator was initially denied access to a firearm by a licensed dealer, after the dealer found he was prohibited from owning a gun via the federally mandated background check. The shooter then went online and found an unlicensed dealer who was not required to run a background check, and successfully obtained a rifle.
Over 75 percent of Republican voters, and 52 percent of NRA members, support implementing background checks to address these types of gun sales. This stance that makes sense given that it is not inanimate pieces of hardware causing these tragedies, but the sick individuals who are purchasing them. To ensure that fewer families and fewer communities face these tragedies, we as a country must ensure that felons, those who have threatened to harm others, or those who are mentally unstable, do not have access to a gun.
With the legislative process, the devil is in the details, and any potential legislation would have to ensure that family transfers like those from father to or son, or the loan of a gun for a hunting trip are not subject to any new restrictions.
Given Senator Scott and Rubio’s strong history of supporting the Second Amendment, there is little doubt in my mind that they will push back on any Democratic attempts to infringe on the freedoms of lawful gun owning Americans. I am hopeful that they and other Republicans will instead direct the conversation towards fixing our broken gun laws, specifically those surrounding stranger to stranger sales. Doing so will ensure that less of these preventable tragedies occur, while at the same time preserving our constitutional Second Amendment rights here in Florida and across the nation.