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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Despite millions of dollars in federal grants to update Florida’s criminal database, it’s in bad condition and people who really shouldn’t get guns are slipping through the cracks, the Palm Beach Post reports. Even if the database is updated, some worry it’s pointless unless Congress acts to close the gun show loophole.
An editorial by the Palm Beach Post says the Florida Legislature should act now to revise a law that doesn’t do enough to keep guns out of the hands of persons who have been hospitalized for treatment of mental illness. he mentally ill.
In the wake of the massacre that was averted at the University of Central Florida, Orlando Sentinel columnist Beth Kassab questions the push by some gun-rights advocates to allow weapons on college campuses. The advocates say students, faculty and staff should be able to defend themselves.
The only gun-control bill that appears to have any chance of making it through the Florida Legislature this session is one that the National Rifle Association supports, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
A 30-year-old man living in a dormitory at the University of Central Florida apparently planned to kill other students by sounding the fire alarm, then shooting them when they went outside. But when police responded quickly to a 911 call from one of his roommates, the Orlando Sentinel reports, James Oliver Seevakumaran turned the gun on himself.
A Senate education panel approved a measure that would allow counties to enact a tax to pay for additional resource officers and student mental health services, the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau reports. In the wake of the Newtown elementary school massacre, some lawmakers are even proposing measures to let teachers carry concealed weapons.
In the 2013 legislative session, which starts Tuesday, lawmakers will take a hard look at improving school security following the mass killing at Sandy Hook Elementary in December. Under the bill proposed by Republican Rep. Greg Steube of Sarasota, school principals could choose one or more staff members to be trained to carry a gun into school, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
In the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre and calls for better access to mental-health treatment, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is cosponsoring a bill that would enable more community mental-health centers to provide crisis stabilization care, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
WASHINGTON - In response to the Newtown massacre and other recent acts of gun violence, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and several colleagues proposed a bill on Thursday to expand mental health services. The bipartisan bill would expand access to Community Mental Health Centers by modernizing existing centers and building new ones.
After he fired six shots in his home -- aiming at rats, he said --76-year-old Thomas Judd of Tampa was “Baker Acted,” taken to a crisis center for an involuntary mental health examination. As usual, he was found to be suffering from schizophrenia. His guns were taken away.
But now Judd has his guns back, after a proceeding in Hillsborough Circuit Court, according to the Tampa Bay Times.