This coming Valentine’s Day marks the third anniversary of the deadly shooting massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, where the lives of 17 people were taken.

What You Need To Know

  • Advocates made their case during Monday Zoom call

  • This weekend will be the third anniversary of the Parkland shootings that killed 17

  • Proposals to ban assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines have stalled in the Florida Legislature in recent years

With that sad day approaching, advocates for banning military-style assault weapons and high capacity magazines in Florida made their case to reporters on Monday in a Zoom conference call. 

“There is no justification for a civilian owning weapons designed for war,” said Gail Schwartz, whose nephew, Alex Schachter, was killed at Parkland by an AR-15 style rifle. “As long as killers can purchase weapons designed for mass carnage, our loved ones will never be safe.”

Schwartz is the chairwoman of Ban Assault Weapons Now, an advocacy organization originally formed to help put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to ban assault-style weapons. The Florida Supreme Court rejected the proposed language of the amendment last June, saying that it was misleading.

Broward County Democratic state Senator Gary Farmer and east Orlando state Dem. Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith are sponsoring bills for the 2021 session that would prohibit the sale, transfer or possession of assault weapons or large capacity magazines.. 

“We have a gun problem in the U.S. We have a gun obsession in the United States. No other country has the mass shootings that we have, “said Farmer, listing other mass shootings that have taken place in recent years around the country.

One of those mass shootings was at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in 2016, where 49 people were killed by a gunman who used two high-capacity, quick-reload weapons.

“When do we take a look around and decide that the survival of our communities is worth more than our easy obsession with weapons of war?” asked Brandon Wolf, who was at Pulse on the night of the shooting. Two of his best friends did not make it out alive.

“We have seen progress. Witnessed steps. When do we finally take action? This bill is what action looks like,” Wolf said. 

But despite the passion of gun-control advocates like Wolf and Schwartz, the proposals to ban assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines have stalled in the Florida Legislature in recent years, and there’s no indication that GOP leaders have changed their beliefs and will allow them to advance in committees in the upcoming session that begins next month.

There are also proposals filed this session that would give gun owners more rights. Central Florida GOP House member Anthony Sabatini has filed bills looking to allow guns on college campuses and houses of worship as well as streamline the conceal carry permitting process.

Florida lawmakers haven’t done much at all on gun legislation in recent years, following the 2018 bill that was signed into law by then Gov. Rick Scott less than a month after the Parkland shootings. In that bill, the age to purchase a gun was raised from 18 to 21. A three-day waiting period to purchase a gun was also included, as was a “red flag” law that allows law enforcement – acting with court approval – to temporarily seize weapons from people deemed to be at risk of harming themselves or others.