TAMPA – In a move prompted by the horrific Parkland high school shooting, the waiting period to purchase a firearm in Hillsborough County is now five days.
County commissioners today voted 5-2 to lengthen the so-called "cooling off period" from three to five days despite protests from some local gun store owners and Second Amendment activists.
The measure was proposed by Democratic Commissioner Les Miller just a few weeks after 17 people were fatally shot at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
State law prohibits local governments from passing gun control measures but the state Constitution, which mandates a three-day waiting period on handgun purchases, allows counties the flexibility to make it five days.
Miller told the crowd that he was thinking not only of Parkland, but of his own son, who was shot and wounded at a fraternity party in 1998. A longer cooling-off period could mean someone planning harm will change their mind.
"This doesn't stop you from buying firearms," Miller told the crowd.
Critics of the plan said there is no evidence that extending "cooling-off" periods work. It will, instead, just drive customers to gun stores in neighboring counties that do not have a waiting period, said Marna Tracy, the owner of Tampa Tactical Supply, a Riverview gun store.
"I don't believe it will have any effect," she said.
Riverview resident Stephen Price said the measure wouldn't have made any difference in the Parkland shooting where the gun was purchased legally months before the Feb 14 massacre.
"It is a useless and burdensome penalty placed on the citizens," he said. "A person who need a firearm could be at risk."
Commissioners Ken Hagan and Stacy White, both Republicans, voted against the proposal.
But Miller and fellow Democrat Pat Kemp were joined by Republican commissioners Victor Crist, Sandy Murman and Al Higginbotham, a departure from many gun control debates where votes fall along party lines.
No Republicans spoke during the brief debate.
"We know about the horrific serial killings and mass murders going on in the nation," Kemp said. "We have to do everything we can."