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"No More Vigils-Gun Control" OCT 2019

Dean Johnson | Published on 10/10/2019

Judge Donald Myers (Ninth Judicial Circuit Court) says the courts struggle with crimes committed with assault weapons. Candice Crawford, president/CEO of the Mental Health Association of Central Florida, says she is concerned with the everyday use of handguns, particularly in suicides.

Orange County Sheriff John Mina says gun issues are divisive even in his own household. U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy (Florida’s 7th District) is pushing for the reinstatement of gun-violence research by the CDC.

In short, many threads were explored in “No More Vigils: Assault Weapons & Community Safety,” the lunch-and-learn Hot Topics event presented Wednesday by the LWVOC.

Judge Myers moderated the program, which advocated for common-sense approaches to prevent both suicides and mass killings such as Orlando’s Pulse massacre in 2016.

Rep. Murphy backs HR 8, which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in February. It would require universal background checks, including for buyers of guns sold at gun shows and garage sales.  Murphy says her focus on the issue right now lies in pressuring the U.S. Senate to take up the bill.

Mina added that the National Organization of Chiefs of Police has called for stricter laws involving assault weapons since 1997 – partly a decision based on safeguarding police officers. Mina is also against arming classroom teachers – the Florida Legislature added an extension this year to an element in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act allowing school districts the option of arming not only staff and security guards but now teachers.

Both Crawford and Murphy are encouraged by business developments: Dick’s Sporting Goods halting sales of assault weapons and Walmart no longer allowing hidden carry in its stores.

“Here are businesses putting people over profits while the Senate puts politics over people,” Murphy said.

Crawford cautioned against blanket mental-health assessments of mass killers. The mentally ill, she said, are 11 times more likely to be victims than perpetrators. “Their rights must be honored,” she said.

“The reality is that gun violence happens on a daily basis,” Murphy said.

There’s still work to do.