Florida Democrats renew calls for gun control in wake of deadly Texas school shooting

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Florida Democratic lawmakers are already calling for gun restrictions in the immediate aftermath of the Texas school shooting that left 21 dead.

They’re worried progress made on gun control after the Parkland shooting could be reversed.

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Tony Montalto’s daughter, Gina, was one of the 17 killed in the Parkland shooting.

“Fortunately, after the loss of Gina, her 13 classmates and her three teachers, we saw some positive movement here in the atate of Florida,” said Montalto.

In the wake of the 2018 school shooting, state lawmakers raised the age to purchase all firearms from 18 to 21 and enacted a “red flag” law that allows for courts to remove firearms from the possession of people determined to be a risk to themselves or others.

“And despite worries from those on the political right, the sky has not fallen,” said Montalto.

Now Democratic state lawmakers are demanding more to be done.

They’re renewing calls to ban assault weapons and to require background checks for ammo purchases.

They also want to enhance the state’s red-flag law, to allow family members to file risk protection orders, an ability currently reserved to law enforcement.

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“Who know the person best, who see the struggles that they’re going through every single day and who are quickest in their ability to identify whether someone is a threat to themselves or others,” said state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D-Winter Park) at a press conference in the State Capitol Wednesday.

Instead, they argue the only recent gun proposal to secure the backing of Gov. Ron DeSantis would move the state backwards.

Specifically, they’re concerned about the so-called “constitutional carry” proposal the governor has vowed to sign into law before he leaves office.

That policy would allow Floridians to carry concealed firearms, without obtaining a permit.

“To allow permitless carry, which could snowball into open carry in the state of Florida that will cost lives. This is what Gov. Ron DeSantis is pushing for,” said Smith.

We reached out to the governor’s office for comment Wednesday, but he had still not released a statement in the aftermath of the Texas shooting at the time of this story.

Montalto told us he hopes the conversation surrounding the Texas school shooting doesn’t devolve into a debate strictly around the Second Amendment.

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“Because there’s so much more that failed these families in Texas, just like failed our families in Florida,” said Montalto.

Former Parkland Mayor and current state Rep. Christina Hunschofsky (D-Coconut Creek) said she hopes Florida lawmakers will focus on issues like increasing the number of school psychologists and increasing funding for school mental health.

“I think it’s really important when doing the work in this space is that we look to the things that we do agree on,” said Hunschofsky.

Each year since the Parkland shooting, lawmakers have passed continued improvements to school safety.

This year’s effort includes numerous changes, including improved crisis training for school safety officers.