As your State Senator, I will give special attention to:
- Commonsense Gun Safety Law
- School Safety & Crime Prevention
- Government Transparency
- Clean Water & Energy
- Restoring Beach Access
- Women's & Children's Health Issues
- Stabilizing Medical & Insurance Costs
- School Funding & Education Equity
- Worker Safety & Wages
- Consumer Protections
- Urban Economic Issues
- Voting & Civil Rights
The data shows a sharp increase in justifiable homicides occurred after 2005, when Florida and 16 other states passed Stand Your Ground laws.
Commonsense Gun Safety Law
Our state is faced with a gun violence epidemic that impacts every citizen, every school, every home and Florida’s economy. Laws to protect the Constitutional right to bear arms should not supersede the key role of government as outlined by The Founding Fathers: to “promote the general welfare.”
We should examine the following possibilties to address and fund gun safety:
- Better enforcement of gun laws currently in place.
- Revise Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, which is widely criticized as a license to kill
- Apply to guns some of the regulations, registration and licensing requirements for control of deadly chemicals, explosives, and prescription drugs.
- Require liability insurance for guns as is required for automobiles, with a percentage of the insurance costs designated for public school security.
- Place a special tax on ammunition, the funds applied to mental health and school safety.
- Require of gun owners licensing, registration and testing similar to what is required for a license to operate a potentially deadly motor vehicle:
- Require legislators to recuse themselves from voting on gun legislation if they receive donations from gun lobbyists, gun manufacturers, and related interests.
NOTE: Florida’s Stand Your Ground law follows the model drafted by ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), whose members have donated heavily to some Florida lawmakers, including my opponent, Aaron Bean. Two ALEC identified lawmakers who funded Bean’s campaign were sponsors of the Stand Your Ground law. Bean recently earned an A rating from the National Rifle Association, one of his campaign donors.
The Wall Street Journal reported June 11, 2012:
“Justifiable homicides in Florida rose from an average of 12 a year before the law was passed in 2005 to an average 33 a year afterward, according to statistics from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement."
Federal and state law enforcement agencies showed a sharp increase in justifiable homicides occurred after 2005 when Florida and 16 other states passed the (Stand Your Ground) laws.” The average number of justifiable homicides increased 50 percent in those states with SYG laws in the subsequent 15 years. Changes to Florida's law in 2017 pushed by the NRA made it easier for criminals to commit murder and get away and skirt gun violence charges, according to critics, including state attorneys.
See position paper Florida Desperately Needs Commonsense Gun Law
School Safety and Crime Prevention
Investing in education is ultimately the best long-range crime deterrent. Give people the tools to make a living and hope for a productive life so they don’t turn to crime and violence to survive.
Some measures to consider:
- Design new schools with safeguards against gun assault. Provide funds for all schools to design safety measures, the funding coming from fees on real estate transactions.
- Use professionally trained police officers to patrol schools, the funding coming from security designated fees from tourist-related industries.
- Provide two years of free college to every high school graduate and every citizen, especially unskilled and unemployed older citizens with the requirement they work for at least three years for a non-profit or government agency after receiving either a two-year or four-year college degree.
- Incentives good behavior among the prison population and encourage hope for a productive and crime-free life upon prison release by enrolling offenders in a college or vocational education program within the prison and/or through distance learning.. Provide incentives for private industries and unions to mentor prison students.
- Provide optional four-week summer camps in K thru 12 schools for two sessions in the summer that encourage a love for learning in an area of interest for that child. Examples: Photography, marine life, computer science, gaming technology, arts and music, journalism, chemistry, woodworking, sewing, cooking, various sports. Such programs can address safety, childcare and nutritional needs for children from families of all economic levels, but can re-enforce skills acquired during the previous school year and address a so-called "summer slide." Fund such programs with small fees paid by parents and with sponsorships from instructional area-related industries and businesses.
Education & Education Funding
The education reform policies embraced by Florida legislators for the last two decades were designed to promote school privatization by starving public schools while funding charter schools and vouchers for private schools. Those policies failed to substantially improve student performance but created greater education inequities and greater segregation in schools.
- Return to the education budget the money shifted to give tax breaks to wealthy Floridians and big business.
- Return to the education budget monies shifted from public schools to charter schools for building maintenance and construction.
- Return Lottery money to the education budget as was originally intended.
- Require state funding to pay for state education mandates.
- Let educational professionals design student performance and education improvement programs.
- Pay teachers more.
NOTE: Aaron Bean supported the ALEC education reform agenda initiated in our state by Gov. Jeb Bush with the help of Bean's mentor, former House Speaker John Thrasher, the ALEC lawmaker of the year in 1999. A Reagan-era report, “A Nation At Risk," was used to discredit public school teachers and disparage the performance of public school students to move toward school privatization. But the data in that report was debunked by scientists at Sandia National Laboratories, the same national brain trust that assesses space programs. There is wide contention “A Nation At Risk” was a political document, and evidence of government censorship efforts to keep findings of Sandia scientists from coming to light.
- Require state committees and PACs for state and local elected officials to reveal a full list of donors.
- Require bidders for government work to reveal donations made to lawmakers who may have had a role in crafting legislation for government programs or work they seek.
- Require state lawmakers to reveal lobbyists who have contacted them or advised on a bill that lawmaker may sponsor or support, and donations received from that lobbyist. Post that information on the lawmaker's state website.
Clean Water & Energy
- Restrict fracking to protect sources of drinking water and farmlands that might be contaminated by the process.
- Provide incentives for greater use of solar energy.
Restoring Beach Access
- Rescind the beach access law passed by legislators in 2018 that restricts access to taxpayer maintained Florida beaches and enables beachfront landowners to fence and cordon off portions of the beach previously available for use by all citizens.
Women's & Children's Health Issues
- Rescind state funding for the "fake" women's health clinics that restrict information for all options for an unwanted pregnancy.
- Remove state laws that interfere with a woman's right to decide on health care decisions.
- Provide access to affordable dental and health care for all children.
Florida Desperately Needs Commonsense Gun Law
If our elected officials are really sincere about addressing the gun violence plaguing North Florida and our nation, there ARE commonsense alternatives to the pat answer Trump offered recently: Put armed guards in every church, every public venue, every school and everyone pack a pistol.
Clearly, laws are needed NOW to thwart future blood baths inflicted with guns.
A good starting point would involve those things Democrats, Republicans—and gun owners—agree on, as revealed in surveys from the non-partisan Pew Research Center. Perhaps those Florida lawmakers who have lacked political spine to act more forcefully will be moved by the Pew polls showing partisan support for the following.
- A data base to track gun sales (GOP 58%; Dems 88%)
- Background checks for private sales and at gun shows (GOP 79%; Dems 91%)
- Banning high capacity magazines (GOP 51%; Dems 81%)
- Banning assault-style weapons (GOP 50%; Dems 81%)
- Banning gun purchases by people on federal no-fly or watch lists (GOP 83; Dems 86%)
- Preventing people with mental illnesses from purchasing guns (GOP 89%; Dems 89%)
Structuring those laws, along with stronger enforcement of existing regulations, could lead to discussion of additional regulations, licensing and taxation.
Like most Americans, I don’t want to take away anyone’s gun used for self-defense, hunting or target practice. Our system leaves much up to the states, but unfortunately the Florida legislature has tragically failed to embrace key elements of model laws and “no-brainer” measures successfully used in other states. Gifford Law Center details states with relevant laws, key elements, and model laws.
Florida’s gun laws are a disgrace--hazardous to public health and safety. For example, in Florida it is not illegal to buy a gun for someone who cannot legally purchase one otherwise. And Florida holds the dubious distinction as the only state where it isn’t illegal to lie about a criminal record to get a gun.
What should be of great concern to all Floridians are press reports that show staggering growth in our state of “gun manufacturers,” with Florida now second only to Texas. Between 2009 and 2016, Florida’s firearm manufacturing licenses quadrupled to 691, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives.
Other statistics indicate Florida has a serious gun trafficking problem, but our state has in place only two of the “Ten Key State Laws That Curb Illegal Gun Trafficking.” Trace the Gun shows only two states had a higher “percentage of guns recovered in a crime within two years of original sale — a strong indicator of gun trafficking.”
Florida lawmakers must act NOW to thwart more gun horror as we have seen in Charleston (2015), Pulse (2016), Las Vegas (2017), Parkland (February 2018), the Jacksonville Landing (only weeks ago) and now Pittsburgh (October 2018).
My opponent, Aaron Bean has a record of being against all gun laws. Though he’s been a Tallahassee lawmaker for nearly two decades during which time there have been hundreds of lives lost to mass murderers, and thousands more to gun crimes, suicide and domestic violence, he lacks either the will, spine and or imagination or all three to support reforms with teeth.
When Parkland massacre student survivors asked him about his stance on deadly assault rifles, he paused, then said, “It’s a headscratcher,” and quickly exited his Tallahassee office. (When I noted on social media a YouTube news video of this encounter, it disappeared within minutes of the post. A snippet is in the movie, Fahrenheit 11/9.)
As your State Senator, I will take the issue of gun safety and gun reform head on. Among the proposals I will push:
- Regulate ammunition, especially the hollow point bullets designed to maximize damage to human targets.
- Outlaw armor-piercing bullets.
- Tax bullets—with heavier taxes on hollow points
As one expert on Child Welfare and Family Violence explained, At a certain cost, fewer bullets will be purchased and the cost of stockpiling ammunition will become onerous. [R]aising the cost of bullets does not directly infringe on the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution … The population will still have the right to “bear arms” It is just going to be much more expensive to load the weapons.
- Establish a data bank to track purchasers of bullets and quantities purchased, similar to laws that track certain prescription drugs.
- Allow gun ranges to sell tax-free ammo for use on premises;
- Legislation requiring lawmakers to recuse themselves from voting on gun legislation if they receive donations from gun lobbyists, gun manufacturers, and related interests.
- Revise Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, which is widely criticized as “a license to kill." The data shows a sharp increase in justifiable homicides occurred after 2005, when Florida and 16 other states passed Stand Your Ground laws
- Allocate revenues from gun licensing fees and ammunition taxes to public school safety.
Other proposals I would explore include:
- Applying to guns those regulations, registration and licensing requirements required for potentially deadly chemicals, explosives, and prescription drugs.
- Requiring liability insurance for guns as is required for automobiles, with a percentage of the insurance costs designated for public school security.
- Requiring of gun owners licensing, registration and testing similar to what is required for a license to operate a potentially deadly motor vehicle.