Paid by Tammy Garcia, Democrat, for FL House 37

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What can we do?

February 20, 2018

I saw an article from Tampa Bay Times in Twitter where they asked the Florida legislators to respond to 3 questions about gun control and safety in the aftermath of Parkland. One of the comments said "you should ask this to all of the candidates." So in the interest of openness, here's my answers...

 

What solution do you have for this problem?

This is a multifaceted issue that requires a multifaceted solution. Banning assault weapons alone is not the answer just as better funding mental health programs alone isn't the answer. The solution will have various components. Parkland shooter purchased his assault weapon legally. Raising the minimum age to 21 as it is for handguns would have prevented him having this particular gun, but that's not the end of the story. Multiple government agencies had clues about his mental state, but nothing was done. Obviously these agencies need to be able to better investigate these claims. Being in mental health therapy does not automatically mean a person is unstable or mentally ill to the point they shouldn't be able to operate a gun. However there needs to be a better measure other than only preventing "mentally defective" individuals from having a gun. In Sutherland, the shooter passed his background check because the Air Force never reported his criminal misconduct. States do not always report offenses to a federal database used for background checks and with a 3 day waiting period, it can be difficult for the check to showcase all of the problems. The answer doesn't have to be banning all guns. There does have to be a multifaceted solution that addresses mental health, assault weapons, waiting periods, background checks, minimum age, a national database of violent offenses, and a number of other components.

Why should or shouldn't there be limitations on semi-automatic weapons or high-capacity magazines?

There should be a ban on weapons designed for the sole purpose of combat use and killing people en masse. That includes high capacity magazines. These are not guns for self protection. These are not guns for hunting purposes. They have a purpose in the military and that's where they need to stay. To say "well the guns are already out there so no point in banning them" is illogical. It would be the same as saying "well drugs are already out there so we might as well stop trying to get rid of drugs." Just because something already exists doesn't mean we should throw our hands up and say "nothing we can do!" Ban assault weapon sales, make them illegal, and have a trade in/ turn in event. These are things that can be done.

What can we do to better protect our kids in school?

You aren't going to better protect kids at school by bringing in more guns. You have to solve the root of the problem. You have to address all the issues I mentioned earlier. I was in 10th grade when Columbine happened and I can't believe that in all that time, nothing has been done to prevent mass shootings like that. In 19 years we haven't done anything to better protect anyone from this. The time for action was in 1999 after Columbine, or in 2012 after Newtown, or 2016 after Orlando. The point is that we need to make changes NOW. No more thoughts and prayers without meaningful action. 

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