As anti-gun Democrats in Virginia were taking the first steps towards passing Governor Ralph Northam’s gun control agenda on Monday, some Republicans in Florida were giving their approval of a bill that would impose new restrictions on private transfers of firearms, including a requirement that background checks be performed on all transfers at gun shows.
The state senate’s Committee on Infrastructure and Security approved SB 7028 on a 7-0 vote, over the objections of gun owners and the state’s most powerful pro-2A lobbyist. From the Miami Herald:
The NRA’s longtime Florida lobbyist, Marion Hammer, said “a vote for this bill is a vote for massive gun control.”
“It appears to be an actual attempt to ban private sales through red tape and fear,” Hammer said. “Asking average citizens to create what amounts to a government form and get it notarized is ridiculous.”
As Hammer notes, the legislation requires a bizarre and byzantine system for private gun sellers.
…when selling a gun to another individual, 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.
[State Senator Tom] 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.
Sen. Lee talked after the vote about trying to find the “least onerous” way to add new regulations for private gun sellers, but this isn’t it. Tracking down a notary public to witness the form is going to be at least as burdensome as trekking down to your local FFL, and notary publics are going to charge their own fees to witness the form.
In addition to the new regulations on private transfers of firearms, the bill imposes several other restrictions on legal gun owners.
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 be kept securely stored to prevent anyone of “unsound mind” from accessing them. The penalty is also a 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.
As a parent and a gun owner, I can’t get behind a provision that denies parents the ability to decide when their child is old enough to have access to a firearm for self-defense. I’ve covered enough stories to know that there are times when a minor may need to protect themselves. In fact, back in 2006, the Miami Herald reported the story of a 15-year old Floridian who used his father’s gun in self-defense. Do lawmakers really believe that in cases like that, Dad should face up to 60-days in jail?
Just because the bill has cleared a Senate committee doesn’t mean it’s on track to become law. The Miami Herald notes that the Republican Speaker of the House hasn’t come out in support of any new gun control bills, and Gov. Ron DeSantis was elected after declaring that he would have vetoed the package of laws passed in the wake of the shooting in Parkland, Florida in 2018. Still, gun owners in Florida need to be in contact with their state senators and house members to urge them to reject any bill that restricts the rights of the law abiding while failing to crack down on the state’s violent criminals.