gun violence


PBS is bringing a nationally syndicated town hall on rising gun violence to central Florida tonight. Northland Church in Longwood will be the scene for the “Armed in America” series.

On Wednesday, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez unveiled a new plan he hopes will prevent shooting deaths of children.

More than 100 children in the county have been killed by gun violence over past three years.

Mass shootings and police shootings have spurred calls for authorities to take action to reduce the violence. But policymakers may be stymied by the dearth of public health research into both gun violence and deaths that involve the police. One big obstacle: congressional restrictions on funding of such research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Right now, the CDC studies all kinds of violence. There's a program on child abuse and youth violence, and the public health agency collects data on suicides and sexual assaults.


The nation's chief doctor said he doesn't regret saying gun violence is a public health issue, calling his difficult confirmation process a consequence of speaking out.

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said Saturday that the backlash from his gun-control statement was disappointing but not a surprise.

He was confirmed in December in the face of opposition from the National Rifle Association, which was a rare defeat for the powerful gun lobby.

Court Upholds Ban On Openly Carrying Guns

Feb 19, 2015

  In what judges described as a first-of-its-kind case, an appeals court Wednesday upheld a Florida law that prevents people from openly carrying firearms, finding that the restriction does not violate constitutional rights to bear arms.

The ruling by a three-judge panel of the 4th District Court of Appeal stemmed from the 2012 arrest in Fort Pierce of Dale Norman, who was openly carrying a gun in a holster. A jury found Norman guilty of a second-degree misdemeanor charge, leading to the appeal on constitutional grounds.

A Florida lawmaker has filed a bill that would allow concealed weapons on college campuses, the News Service of Florida reports. State Rep. Gary Steube, R-Sarasota said he had already planned to sponsor the bill before last month’s shooting incident at Florida State University. According to the News Service, an attempt to allow concealed weapons on campus was also filed in 2011, but the measure was defeated.

School Shootings Need Ebola-Like Attention

Nov 17, 2014

Dear Editor,

I am a  heartbroken mother, grandmother , aunt, teacher, and member of my community, because of school shootings; the mass murder of our future hopes and dreams, and our nation’s lack of outrage and a moral fiber  to stop the sociopathic  national quality that doesn’t know or care enough to stop wholesale slaughter of our beloved babies.

 USF's School of Public Affairs and Nielsen's latest results on their annual Sunshine State Survey was released today, asking how Floridians feel about crime and environmental issues.

USF Political Scientist Dr. Susan MacManus said 46 percent of Floridians are in favor of making current gun laws more restrictive, while a slight majority see no reason to do so.

"This question really reflects racial, ethnic, gender and age divide in the state," she said.

Not Guns OR Mental Health; It's Both

Jun 1, 2014

The American tragedy continues with six collegians killed in the sleepy college town of Isla Vista, California.  The deranged murderer then took his own life after a shooting and stabbing rampage.  A victim’s distraught father lashed out at the NRA, politicians and all those who would impede gun restrictions.  In Florida, bullets sent people scurrying for cover in Clearwater Beach.  Myrtle Beach suffered three shot dead in shooting rampage recently.  The carnage continues.

House Expected to Pass Warning Shot Bill

Mar 20, 2014

The Republican-controlled Florida House is expected today to pass the first significant revisions to the state's self-defense laws since the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

Legislators are expected to vote for a bill that would let people fire warning shots and avoid the state's strict mandatory minimum sentences for using a gun.

The Rev. Al Sharpton and the mothers of two unarmed black youths shot to death in Florida led protesters in Tallahassee Monday, as lawmakers in the House considered revamping gun laws.

Three parents have been charged with abuse or neglect of their children, two of whom died. In the other case, a mother admitted she left five children age 7 and younger at home when she went out and drugged them so they would sleep. Here are details:

Florida’s 2014 Legislative session will start with the typical benign tone that comes during an election year. But it’s unclear if the Republican-led legislature can keep things status quo, the Hearld/Times Tallahassee Bureau reports.

Pasco County Sheriff’s investigators will not file charges against Lenny Linardos, 46, for Monday’s shooting of Jamie Velez, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

They say Linardos, owner of Holiday’s West Coast Spine and Injury Center, shot Velez in self defense, after the 33-year-old confronted the chiropractor at his clinic.

A state law that allows gun ranges on private property is being challenged by South Florida lawmakers who say regulation is needed to make their communities safer, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports. Sunrise Mayor Mike Ryan is asking the state to allow cities to enact their own restrictions on gun use, even on private property.

Senseless and tragic shootings occurred near Tampa and in West Palm Beach on Monday.  In one, a retired police officer irked over a fellow moviegoer’s incessant texting shot him in the head. In the other, a recently divorced nurse's assistant who was being forced out of her home through foreclosure shot her two teen-age children and herself.

TALLAHASSEE — A gun rights group is suing the University of Florida for banning guns in campus housing. The lawsuit comes on the heels of a similar suit against the University of North Florida's ban on guns in cars.

In early December, the 1st District Court of Appeal sided with a UNF student and gun rights group Florida Carry that challenged a rule banning students from storing guns in their cars.

Police are wondering if a 20-year-old man who shot himself and died at Halifax Health Medical Center had used a popular synthetic narcotic before his rampage, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. An almost-empty bottle labeled  “Molly Water” was found in the car of Jonathan Rodriguez-Jeff, who police say shot himself in the head in front of a nurse and her Alzheimer’s patient.

An armed man shot at cars, threatened patients and beat several nurses before killing himself at a Daytona Beach hospital Sunday. Deltona’s Jonathan Rodriguez-Jeff, 22, crashed his car through the hospital gate and used a 12-gauge shotgun to shoot out a glass door at the hospital’s Professional Building, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Across the state, four out of 10 people who come to hospital emergency rooms with nonfatal gunshot wounds were shot by accident, according to the Orlando Sentinel (paywall alert). The rate is even higher in Orange County, with accidents accounting for more than half of firearm-related ER visits.

Armed guards in the schools seemed like a good idea last December after the massacre at Newtown Elementary. But calmer heads prevailed, which is just as well, writes public health specialist and consumer advocate Gary Stein of Tampa.

If you look at the public health data on gun violence, there are a lot of ways children could be made safer, but armed guards in schools really isn't one of them, he writes in Huffington Post.

Tampa Bay Times columnist John Romano writes that there are serious loopholes in the "stand your ground" law that enable bad guys like drug dealers and motorists consumed with road rage to use it in ways that its creators never intended -- they provoke a confrontation and then use deadly force.

Mark Randall / Sun-Sentinel

A 15-year-old survived a stray bullet to the head as fans celebrated the championship win by the Miami Heat during the NBA finals last Thursday, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports. Miramar police say it was celebratory gunfire that hit the teen, who was struck as he watched the trophy presentation on TV in his mother’s home.

The NRA has fought laws that sought to restrict guns in Florida for decades. But now, the NRA is urging the group’s members to email Gov. Rick Scott and convince him to sign a bill that would ban gun purchases by most people who have been treated for mental illness, the Tampa Bay Times reports.   

A man who killed his wife before turning the gun on himself may have been driven by paranoia after he stopped taking his medication for mental illness, the Tampa Bay Times reports. According to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office, a few weeks before the murder-suicide, Michael Jones reportedly told his son he had scheduled a mental health evaluation.

A Senate panel approved a measure that would block some people who have voluntarily gotten mental health treatment from purchasing a firearm, the News Service of Florida reports. The bill will go to the Senate floor for a vote next. 

While overall crime dropped across the state, murders with a gun increased 38 percent in 2011, according to the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting. Experts can’t say for sure why more people are being killed by guns, but they point out that gun ownership has increased sharply over the past decade.  

The Senate unanimously approved a ban on texting-while-driving this morning, the Tampa Bay Times reports. The bill's next stop is the House. 

Tampa Bay Times

Even though seven counties in Florida have laws on the books that regulate background checks at gun shows, they are mostly ineffective, the Tampa Bay Times reports. Law enforcement officials admit they don’t enforce the rule. One gun show organizer says the rule has no impact, since sellers mostly ignore it, too. 

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

As Florida lawmakers consider how they’re going to deal with gun violence, Miami-Dade police are trying to figure out why a gun that killed a 4-year-old was in easy reach of her and two other young children, the Miami Herald reports. By law, loaded firearms are supposed to be locked up so children can’t get to them. If they do and that weapon kills them, the responsible person faces a third-degree felony.