On Monday, the Florida Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee will begin hearings on gun safety. Volunteers with the Florida chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America will attend the hearing and urge lawmakers to recommend legislation requiring background checks on all gun sales. If you’d like to interview a volunteer with the Florida chapter of Moms Demand Action prior to Monday’s hearing, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Background checks are the bedrock of gun violence prevention. But Florida state law currently does not require background checks on unlicensed gun sales, leaving a massive loophole in place that makes it far too easy for criminals, people prohibited from having guns because of mental illness and others with dangerous histories to get their hands on guns through private sales, at gun shows or through online dealers like Armslist.com. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have closed this loophole by enacting laws requiring background checks on all gun sales.
A recent report showed that in 2018 alone, there were over 90,000 online gun sale ads on Armlist.com in Florida that would not require a background check. And one in seven prospective Florida buyers on that site would have failed a background check. That’s a rate nearly 10 times higher than buyers who fail background checks at licensed dealers or in other contexts where background checks are required.
This loophole has deadly consequences. The shooter who killed seven people and wounded 25 last month in Odessa, Texas, purchased the assault-style weapon used in the shooting through a private, or unlicensed, seller and avoided undergoing a background check. In fact, a report from Everytown for Gun Safety on mass shootings that took place between January 2009 and December 2017 found that in at least one-third of mass shootings 59 incidents, the shooter was legally prohibited from possessing firearms at the time of the shooting.
Recent polling by Fox News showed that requiring a background check on all gun sales is supported by 89 percent of Republicans, 92 percent of Democrats and 93 percent of gun-owning households. More information on background checks is available here.