Reporting Peter D’Oench
Legislative Session Coverage
BROWARD (CBSMiami) – Lawmakers and lawmen are calling for loopholes to be closed on gun laws, enhanced background checks and a more effective system of making sure guns are registered.
The proposals surfaced Friday in a “Gun Safety Roundtable” at BSO headquarters in Fort Lauderdale that was co-hosted by Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D) Florida, Broward Sheriff Scott Israel and Broward Mayor Kristin Jacobs.
As the gun safety debate rages nationwide in a country with some 200 million guns on our street, some gun buyers are telling CBS4 that are stocking up on weapons in case there are future restrictions on buying weapons.
At Big Al’s Gun Shop in Pembroke Park, CBS4’s Peter D’Oench discovered that gun sales recently are up 30 per cent.
“I’m trying to get mine before Obama passes the law to protect myself,” said Michael McCalla. McCalla was considering the purchase of a handgun for nearly $500 when he told D’Oench, “I need protection.”
Ky Roletti was looking at handguns at Big Al’s Gun Shop when he told D’Oench, “They are messing with the second amendment, the right to bear arms.” Roletti thought restrictions were already in place.
“With that stupid ban on buying, I want to protect myself,” said Roletti.
Wasserman Schultz noted that 40 per cent of gun purchases are made with no background checks.
“We know you can go to Florida Trader Dot Com and find a weapon of your choice and contact the seller and go to a parking lot and buy a weapon from the trunk of a car no questions asked,” she said.
She called for closing loopholes now favoring gun dealers.
“They can actually turn your gun inventory into a private collections and sell as a private owner, no questions asked even if they have violated the law before.”
A key problem is that many handguns are not registered.
“When it comes to handguns, we don’t require that they are all registered,” said Jacobs. “The person you sold it to should be registered and you should be culpable until you no longer own it. It should be just like a car.”
They stopped short of calling for a ban on selling assault weapons though Wasserman Schultz told D’Oench, “I personally favor a ban on assault weapons.”
Broward Sheriff Scott Israel praised those at the roundtable session for a “global approach.”
Following the devastating school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, Miami-Dade School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said, “The presence of a police resource officer at every school cannot be ignored.”
Carvalho noted that “I have buried 44 children who were victims of violence that did not happen in our schools since I have been Superintendent and that has to stop.”
At Big Al’s Gun Shop, gun buyer Chris Rodriguez said, “This is a complex issue and I worry about sweeping changes.”
But another gun owner, who asked CBS4 not to use his name, said, “I think they should absolutely ban extended magazines and ban assault rifles. There is no reason to get them. I would give mine up.”
Some want tighter restrictions at gun shows like the one being held on Saturday and Sunday at the War Memorial Auditorium in Fort Lauderdale.
Business owner Early Rynerson told D’Oench that “I am alarmed by the volume of automatic assault-style weapons that are on display and are being bought and sold right under our noses.”
Rynerson said buyers at gun shows often do not receive a background check as long as they can show that they have a concealed weapon permit. “At gun shops, it’s a different story. Even with a concealed weapon permit, you have to wait for your weapon after you buy because of a background check.”
“The War memorial Auditorium is right next to Holiday Park where children play with the parents,” saud Rynerson. “The city recently renewed its contract with Sun Coast Gun Collectors from Ohio for a total of eight gun shows this year. These shows are a magnet for militia wannabees. They want to get their hands on assault weapons without a permit.”
“I do not believe this sort of gun show activity is something the city should be sponsoring,” he said.
The issue was raised at a news conference after the gun safety roundtable.
Jacobs said it was a “city issue” so as Broward Mayor she could not addressed it.
Rynerson plans to send a group of people in to the Gun Show on Saturday to see what they find out and will speak with reporters afterwards.
Meanwhile, back at Big Al’s Gun Shop, Schatzman said, “I think everyone should have a background check. There is no reason not to have one when you sell to other people.”
The Obama Administration favors universal background checks and wants a ban on selling high-capacity magazine clips. The National Rifle Association (NRA) opposes those proposals. The NRA has four million members.
Enacting gun control legislation is a big challenge.
Florida has some of the loosest laws on the books. At 18 years old you can buy a gun. There is no license or permit needed. All you have to do is wait 72 hours. Background checks only occur when you buy the gun from a dealer.
If you buy the gun off Craigslist or from some person in a parking lot, there is no paperwork, background or permit required by law.
It is often joked that the NRA runs the Florida legislature. Florida’s Governor Rick Scott is a member of the NRA and a pro gun supporter. He has supported measures to allow Floridians to carry their guns in the open. He also supported a measure that made it illegal for a doctor to ask a patient if they had a gun at home. That law was eventually overturned following a lawsuit.
It’s estimated that 47% of U.S. homes have a gun. In Florida alone, there are one million concealed weapon permits.
In 2012, some $700,000 was spent by the NRA on Florida politicians. Top federal recipients included former Congressmen Allen West, David Rivera and current Representative Mario Diaz-Balart.
One of the heaviest hitters aligned with the NRA is South Florida’s own Senator Marco Rubio.
Rubio has said, “The challenge with gun laws is that by definition criminals do not follow the law. For example, Connecticut’s gun laws, some of the strictest in the nation, were not able to prevent this atrocity.”
Rubio has said that he will support gun control debate.
Based on their voting records, we found most of South Florida’s legislators are pro or semi-pro gun control. The list includes Senator Bill nelson, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Congresswoman Frederica Wilson and Wasserman Schultz.