Monday, September 24, 2018
Politics

Ban on assault weapon sales proposed for Hillsborough County

TAMPA — A Hillsborough County Commissioner is calling for the county to ban the sale of assault-style weapons and increase the waiting period to purchase a gun to five days.

Commissioner Les Miller also wants to make it a misdemeanor for anyone to make a threat against a Hillsborough County school, including on social media.

"There’s no need for anyone to be owning assault weapons like the ones utilized in these murders in schools or night clubs," Miller said. "The weapon is more powerful than what our law enforcement has. Something has got to happen."

FROM TALLAHASSEE: Black lawmakers: Armed teachers will increase Florida’s gun dangers

Miller’s proposal was added Thursday evening to the agenda for the county commission’s meeting next week on March 7.

The call for action comes in the wake of the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Nicholas Cruz, used a semi-automatic AR-15 rile to kill 17 students and teachers at the school, authorities said.

A local prohibition on assault-style weapons is unlikely. The county attorney already determined in 2013 that commissioners don’t have that power. The board’s make up, five Republicans to two Democrats, adds to the uncertainty.

However, counties can implement a waiting period of up to five days to purchase a handgun. Hillsborough’s existing wait period is three days.

MORE COVERAGE: Gun package in deep trouble in divided Florida House

Miller is also acting in the face of a 2011 state law that prohibits localities from enacting their own gun rules and threatens any local official who tries to pass one with a $5,000 fine. That law also says the Florida governor can remove mayors and commissioners who buck the state.

Another Florida locality, Coral Gables, is challenging that law.

"If I’m fined, I’m fined. If there’s an attempt to remove me from office, then there’s an attempt to remove me from office," Miller said. "As long as I can look in the mirror and say, ‘Les Miller, you did the right thing,’ I’ve satisfied myself."

In the state House of Representatives throughout the late 1990s, Miller often backed similar weapons bans. Part of it is personal. In 1997, Miller’s son was one of five men shot at a Florida A&M University party on the eve of graduation. The bullet went through the lung of Lesley ``Trey’’ Miller III, but he survived.

"Why couldn’t we have done it then?" Commissioner Les Miller said Thursday. "Would it have stopped this young man from going into the school in Parkland? Would it have stopped Orlando? We don’t know, but there’s a good chance it may have."

Miller said he is pessimistic that Congress or the legislature will take any action on gun control.

MORE COVERAGE: Were Parkland families used or helped? Distrust grows over gun legislation.

Lawmakers in Tallahassee are debating whether to arm teachers and impose new age restrictions on guns but have already rejected a similar ban on military-style weapons. A bipartisan group of Senators met with President Donald Trump Wednesday to discuss potential compromises, but whether anything comes of it remains to be seen.

As Florida’s fourth largest county, Miller hopes to set an example.

"Commissioners have to see something in their hearts to say this has to stop," he said. "Hopefully other counties will see it and hopefully the Legislature will see it."

Times senior news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Contact Steve Contorno at [email protected] Follow @scontorno.

Comments
Rod Rosenstein, who had been overseeing Russia probe, has offered to resign

Rod Rosenstein, who had been overseeing Russia probe, has offered to resign

WASHINGTON - Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein has told White House officials he is willing to resign in the wake of revelations he once suggested secretly recording the president, but it’s unclear if the resignation has been accepted, according...
Published: 09/24/18
Solar farm land price is $6.8 million, including $4.4 million to state Sen. Wilton Simpson

Solar farm land price is $6.8 million, including $4.4 million to state Sen. Wilton Simpson

Tampa Electric Co. has said its Mountain View Solar project near Dade City represented a $75 million investment in alternative energy. The investing began in earnest last week when the utility paid more than $6.8 million for 382 acres in the rural co...
Published: 09/24/18
US considers limit on green cards for immigrants on benefits

US considers limit on green cards for immigrants on benefits

SAN DIEGO — The Trump administration has proposed rules that could deny green cards to immigrants if they use Medicaid, food stamps, housing vouchers and other forms of public assistance.Federal law already requires those seeking green cards t...
Published: 09/23/18
Christine Blasey Ford reaches deal to  testify at Kavanaugh hearing

Christine Blasey Ford reaches deal to testify at Kavanaugh hearing

The woman who has accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers has committed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday, her lawyers said Sunday. The lawyers said some details — including whe...
Published: 09/23/18

AP source: Kavanaugh, Ford agree to testify on Thursday

WASHINGTON — Negotiators reached a tentative agreement Saturday for the Senate Judiciary Committee to hear testimony Thursday from Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault from decades ago, two...
Published: 09/22/18

Trump administration aims to sharply restrict new green cards for those on public aid

WASHINGTON — Trump administration officials announced Saturday that immigrants who legally use public benefits like food assistance and Section 8 housing vouchers could be denied green cards under new rules aimed at keeping out people the administrat...
Published: 09/22/18
Dana Young, Janet Cruz spar over guns, schools, environment in crucial Senate race

Dana Young, Janet Cruz spar over guns, schools, environment in crucial Senate race

TAMPA — During a showdown Friday in Florida’s most hotly contested state Senate race, Democratic challenger Janet Cruz launched fireworks at Dana Young over education funding, the environment and guns.Young, the Republican incumbent in District 18, r...
Published: 09/21/18
Drug bill can’t undo damage

Drug bill can’t undo damage

On Sept. 5, two months before Election Day where he’s running for a seventh term, U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis filed a bill to clarify a 2016 law he co-sponsored that made it nearly impossible for the Drug Enforcement Administration to intercept suspiciou...
Published: 09/20/18
Updated: 09/23/18
Confederate group banned from Temple Terrace country club, may take legal action

Confederate group banned from Temple Terrace country club, may take legal action

TEMPLE TERRACE — After complaints from city residents, the Temple Terrace Golf & Country Club has notified the City Council that it will not rent space again to the Sons of Confederate Veterans for its annual banquet.The country clubȁ...
Published: 09/20/18
Carlton: Should felons who have done their time get to vote? Citizens of Florida, it’s in your hands

Carlton: Should felons who have done their time get to vote? Citizens of Florida, it’s in your hands

It’s not often that we citizens — busy with work, paying the bills, living our lives — find ourselves with the power to right a fundamental wrong.But here in Florida, we’re about to get that chance.On the November ballot — among all those candidates ...
Published: 09/20/18