Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco Democrats ask county to close 'gun show loophole'

Pasco Democrats are urging the county to begin requiring a three-day waiting period and background checks for firearms purchased at gun shows.

State law only requires such regulations at retail gun shops. Closing the so-called "gun show loophole" would include sales in which any part of the transaction occurs on "property open to public access." It would not apply to concealed weapon permit holders.

"This legislation does not take away the rights of gun ownership," county Democratic chairman Lynn Lindeman wrote in a letter to county commissioners. "It helps ensure the safety of our children and communities so that only those legally allowed to possess firearms do so."

Voters added a section to the Florida Constitution in 1998 allowing counties to decide whether to expand regulations at gun shows. Pinellas, Hillsborough and Hernando have all adopted such ordinances. After initially warming to the measure, a unanimous Pasco commission rejected the idea in 1999.

The renewed push from local Democrats comes two weeks after the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., that prompted a call from President Barack Obama for increased federal gun control.

But it's not clear if commissioners — all of whom are Republicans — want to revisit the issue.

Commissioner Jack Mariano said he is "okay with the way the law's written." Commissioner Henry Wilson asked county staffers to research the issue but said he would be wary of passing more gun restrictions to prevent violence.

"More gun legislation isn't going to stop it," he said. "Most of the (offenders) have chemical abuses or mental issues, and we have to address those."

Other commissioners are more open to the idea. Commissioner Pat Mulieri said in an email that she would support the waiting period and the background checks. "It is a different world we live (in) now than in 1999," she said.

Commissioner Ted Schrader, who describes himself a gun advocate, said he welcomes an "open discussion" about a possible local ordinance.

"The question I would have is why does an individual need to own an assault rifle?" Schrader said, adding his wife has a concealed weapon permit and his sons are avid hunters. "I think that's the real question of the day, and I think it's on the minds of a lot of citizens in the country."

Commissioner Kathryn Starkey was on vacation Wednesday and could not be reached for comment.

The measure would have to overcome logistical hurdles, including how to implement a three-day waiting period for gun shows that are often held during a two-day weekend. There's also the question of how private citizens would conduct background checks if they sell guns at a gun show. State officials only conduct checks for licensed gun dealers.

Lindeman called the measure a "no-brainer" and said he hopes a commissioner introduces the idea at next week's meeting. If not, he plans to pitch the idea during the public comment period at a subsequent meeting.

GOP state committeeman Bill Bunting, a longtime gun rights activist, said he doesn't recall a gun show in Pasco in four or five years. (One is scheduled for March 2-3 at the Pasco County Fairgrounds.)

Bunting pointed to the 1999 vote, and said two Democrats who were then on the commission rejected the idea. A more effective move, he said, would be inviting undercover federal firearm agents to look for suspected illegal buyers at gun shows.

"All the Democrats are doing is grandstanding," he said. "They just want to grab headlines."

Lee Logan can be reached at or (727) 869-6236.

Pasco Democrats ask county to close 'gun show loophole' 01/02/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 2, 2013 8:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Comedian and activist Dick Gregory dies at 84


    The comedian Dick Gregory rose to national prominence in the early 1960s as a black satirist whose audacious style of humor was biting, subversive and topical, mostly centered on current events, politics and above all, racial tensions. His trademark was the searing punchline.

    Dick Gregory, a comedian, activist and author, died Saturday. [Tribune News Service, 2011]
  2. Winter Haven police investigating armed robbery at Dollar General


    WINTER HAVEN — Police are investigating an armed robbery Friday night of a Dollar General store on W Lake Ruby Drive.

  3. Rowdies settle for draw at home


    ST. PETERSBURG — The good news for the Rowdies is that they still haven't lost a game at Al Lang Stadium since late April. The bad news is they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against Ottawa on Saturday night in front of 6,710 sweaty fans.

  4. Bats come to life, but Rays' freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG —The six runs seemed like a ton, just the second time the Rays had scored that many in a game during their numbing two-plus-weeks stretch of offensive impotency, and amazingly, the first time at the Trop in nearly two months.

    Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth, getting the Rays within 7-5. A Logan Morrison home run in the ninth made it 7-6, but Tampa Bay couldn’t complete the comeback.