While Virginians work to block sweeping gun-control measures authored by Democratic lawmakers, Republicans down the coast in Florida are proposing some of those same anti-gun policies.
A Republican-controlled Senate committee voted unanimously on Monday to pass an omnibus bill that would restrict gun sales, ban private sellers at gun shows, impose safe storage requirements, and mandate a three-day waiting period to obtain firearms.
The bill (SB 7028) is a “priority” of Republican Senate President Bill Galvano, according to local media. Galvano asked the Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee to vote on the measure a day before the legislature’s 2020 session is set to begin, and all five Republicans on the committee voted in favor, including committee chairman Senator Tom Lee.
“I know that you don’t see NRA members in the headlines of these mass shootings,” Lee told reporters following Monday’s meeting. “But we have a job to do. We can’t just sit by idly while our children are killing children and pretend this isn’t happening.”
The measure prohibits all private transfers of firearms “on property to which the public has the right of access,” essentially eliminating private sales at gun shows and other events. Sellers who are not federally licensed gun dealers and want to conduct a transfer on publicly accessible property will be required to obtain the services of a licensed dealer who can perform a background check.
For sales not on publicly accessible property, the bill requires the seller to confirm the buyer is over 21 years of age, and make and preserve a dated record of the sale. The record must include the make, model, and serial number of the firearm along with the buyer’s name, date of birth, and ID number.
In addition, the seller must compose an affidavit signed by the buyer that includes all of the information above along with the buyer’s answers to a list of questions similar (though not identical) to the form used by the ATF in firearms transfers. The seller must also have that affidavit notarized.
The measure imposes a three-day waiting period to purchase a firearm but provides exceptions for those with a valid concealed carry license and those who wish to purchase a rifle or shotgun and have completed a hunter’s safety course.
The proposal also mandates safe storage of firearms where minors under the age of 18 or “persons with unsound mind” may be able to gain access to them. Previous law only required safe storage of firearms when children under the age of 16 may be present.
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Marion Hammer, the primary lobbyist in Florida for the National Rifle Association, said the measure contains “the worst universal background check language I have ever seen.”
“It appears to be an actual attempt to ban private sales through red tape and fear,” she said. “Asking average citizens to create what amounts to a government form and get it notarized is ridiculous.”
The legislation is “nothing less than gun control on steroids,” Hammer said.
There is currently no companion legislation in the House, but Sen. Lee promised the Senate president and the Speaker of the House would be coordinating in the coming weeks.
Concerned Florida residents who wish to contact their state representatives can do so here.