State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the lone statewide elected Democrat in Florida, has repeatedly called on Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis to add gun violence to the Legislature’s agenda.

Florida Ag Commissioner Fried Calls On DeSantis For “Gun Violence Prevention Reform”

Florida lawmakers are expected today to wrap up their special session to deal with the state’s shaky property insurance market.

State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the lone statewide elected Democrat in Florida, has repeatedly called on Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis to add gun violence to the Legislature’s agenda.

Fried did so in the wake of the horrific massacre on Tuesday in Uvalde, Texas, where an 18-year-old gunman barricaded himself in an elementary school classroom, and killed 19 children and two adults before being killed himself by a U.S. Border Patrol agent.

Like almost her entire party, Fried screeched for gun control.

“I am completely heartbroken and sickened by the news of another horrific mass shooting today in Texas,” she said in a statement issued Tuesday.

“While our country is still reeling from the racially motivated murders in Buffalo just ten days ago, this is yet another devastating tragedy that took the lives of innocent elementary school students. In Florida, we know all too well the pain and trauma that senseless mass shootings cause in our lives and our communities, and our hearts go out to the victims and everyone who has been hurt by gun violence.”

“I want to be completely clear: offering ‘thoughts and prayers’ is not enough. It’s past time for us to take serious and meaningful action to prevent gun violence. The Legislature must add gun violence prevention reform to the current Special Session agenda. There cannot be any more children massacred or lives destroyed by mass shootings while our government sits idly by.”

Fried renewed her push on Thursday in a letter to DeSantis, whom she hopes to challenge in the governor’s race this fall.

“I am writing to implore you to take action to enact gun safety measures in Florida. As a self-proclaimed ‘defender of life’ who just two months ago said that ‘life is a sacred gift worthy of our protection,’ I am sure we can agree that it is imperative for our state to act immediately to protect the lives of innocent Floridians from gun violence.”

“Fortunately,” Fried added, “there are several pieces of existing legislation the Legislature could immediately take up and pass to make our state more safe.”

“While we must take bold, comprehensive action to prevent gun violence terrorism in Florida, passing these bills is a good place to start,” Fried added. “To not act is to be complicit the next time there is a mass shooting in our state.”

Fried, like most Democrats, and probably as some Republicans may do, called for “gun violence prevention” without thinking through what she was demanding.

In her letter to DeSantis, she noted that one of those “pieces of existing legislation” was a bill her department filed “to close dangerous loopholes and keep firearms out of the hands of bad actors.”

How would it do that? The bill she mentioned would require that the state retain fingerprint records of people seeking concealed weapons permits, and that those who are renewing a permit without having been fingerprinted – which seems unlikely – submit to fingerprinting. The bill also mandates that permit-holders submit proof that they graduated from a firearms training class.

The problem, for Fried, is that none of that would stop an incident like what occurred in Texas.

The gunman there had no criminal background and legally bought rifles, which are not used as concealed weapons, from a licensed dealer. It was legal for someone his age to possess a rifle. While it was reported he had a pistol, it’s unclear where he got the weapon, if in fact he had one. But carrying a pistol without a permit is legal in Texas under a 2021 law. 

Fried’s other measure was commonly known as “Jaime’s Law,” which would require background checks to buy ammunition. The Texas gunman bought 375 rounds of ammo, but again, a background check would not have flagged him because he had no criminal record. Meanwhile, the proposed “Jamie’s Law” has language that says the background check does not apply for buying ammo for a rifle or shotgun or if the seller has “no reason to believe” the buyer “intends to use the ammunition in a crime.”

Of course, the ultimate weakness of the arguments made by Fried and others in her party is that states with the toughest “gun violence prevention laws” in the country, such as New York and California, also are sites of mass shootings.

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