A bill mandating background checks on sales of firearms at gun shows has stalled in the Florida state senate, despite being backed by Senate President Bill Galvano and several other Republican senators.
The Tampa Bay Times reports that Galvano and others are blaming the inaction on election year politics.
Taking up a controversial gun-control measure is not one of their priorities, said Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, who is sponsoring the bill.
“Is that a piece of legislation that Republican legislators would just soon go away?” Lee said. “Oh, duh, of course it is.”
In the wake of back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, last year Galvano asked Lee to come up with a bill to make the state safer, including potential limits on guns.
Lee and his committee came back with Senate Bill 7028, which would close the “gun show loophole” by requiring all sales at gun shows go through a background check. Currently, private-party sales at gun shows are not required to go through background checks.
For all other private-party sales, both the buyer and seller would have to fill out a form that’s notarized attesting the buyer is legally allowed to buy the weapon.
While it’s true that many Florida Republicans in the legislature aren’t interested in passing gun control legislation during an election year, the fact that Sen. Galvano’s fundraising committee received half a million dollars from Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety in 2018 has also raised concerns among law makers and Second Amendment advocates.
Galvano’s decision to accept those contributions became fresh fodder after a Florida Senate panel Monday unanimously signed off on a far-reaching measure that would close the gun-show “loophole,” create a record-keeping system for private gun sales and set aside $5 million to establish a “statewide strategy for violence prevention.”
The proposal (SB 7028) is a priority of Galvano, as evidenced by the Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee’s consideration and passage of the measure the day before the 2020 Legislative Session begins.
But while Galvano supports the legislation, the National Rifle Association does not.
The measure contains “the worst universal background check language I have ever seen,” Marion Hammer, the NRA’s Florida lobbyist and a former president of the national gun-rights organization, told the legislative panel.
Galvano has said that he doesn’t back Bloomberg’s campaign for president and is working to re-elect Donald Trump in November, but isn’t backing down from taking the Bloomberg Bucks in 2018.
Galvano has said repeatedly he would not apologize for accepting the funds and that he was “grateful for the support” from Bloomberg.
“After that legislative action, we received support from many who wanted to see Republican governance continue last election cycle,” Galvano said. “And I am proud to say that, at the helm of Senate campaigns last cycle, we were successfully able to maintain Republican control of the Senate. That support elected Republicans, and one thing Don Jr. and I will absolutely always agree on is our support to re-elect President Donald Trump, and I proudly support that joint effort.”
Galvano may be engaged in a joint effort to re-elect the president, but it looks like his effort to further restrict the rights of gun owners in Florida is failing. There’s just one month left in the legislative session, and so far SB7028 hasn’t made much progress in the Senate. It’s also opposed by Florida’s House Speaker, and Gov. Ron DeSantis hasn’t said or done anything to indicate he supports the bill either. Gun owners in Florida need to keep up contact with their senators, and hopefully in a few weeks we’ll be able to officially report the bill is done for the session.