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Gwen Graham calls for suspension of assault weapon sales, permits

“It is disgraceful that a troubled 18-year-old can purchase a weapon of war at all."
File photo of Gwen Graham. [Times]
Published Feb. 16, 2018
Updated Feb. 16, 2018

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham is calling for the suspension of all assault weapons sales and permits in Florida.

In the wake of yet another deadly mass shooting, the former congresswoman issued a release that excoriated Gov. Rick Scott for his inaction on gun control and called on the Florida Legislature to pass "common sense gun safety proposals."

"After the largest mass shooting in modern American history, Rick Scott sat on his hands. After 13 school shootings, Rick Scott looked the other way. After the massacre of children, Rick Scott won't even say the words common sense gun safety laws," Graham said in a Friday release. "If Rick Scott and Republicans in Tallahassee won't even confront the problem we face, how can we expect it to ever stop? Rick Scott's legacy will forever be covered in blood."

The governor called for policy action on mental health and school safety Thursday, but he avoided talk of legislation that might restrict Floridians' access to guns. On Friday, Scott called for the resignation of FBI Director Christopher Wray after the FBI admitted it did not act on a January tip it got about suspected school shooter Nikolas Cruz.

In response to questions about Graham's statement, Scott's office directed the Times to a statement he released Thursday in which the governor mentioned "keeping guns away from individuals struggling with mental illness."

Graham singled out one gun model in her proposal, saying Florida should restrict access to the semi-automatic AR-15 rifle — the weapon used to gun down 17 people in Parkland on Wednesday. Cruz obtained the weapon legally. (The AR-15 also was used by the gunman who killed 49 people in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in June 2016.)

But Graham did not end her proposal at the AR-15. She also said all Florida assault weapons licenses and sales should stop for the time being. A Graham spokesman confirmed that Graham defines "assault weapon" along roughly the same lines as a federal law that was in place from 1994 to 2004 that restricted access to certain semi-automatic weapons. The suspension would end, the spokesman said, when the Legislature "passes common sense gun safety laws."

Graham is not the only Florida gubernatorial candidate to call for policy action on gun control this week. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum called for a state assault weapons ban in a Thursday release.

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine called for a ban on all semi-automatic weapons Thursday.

And Orlando-area businessman Chris King said Friday that Florida should ban assault weapons "once and for all."

In Florida's Republican-dominated Legislature, such proposals would be non-starters.

This post has been updated with Gov. Scott's response.

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