gun violence

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. 

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. 

Tampa Bay Times

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.

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.

Florida's pediatricians are gaining national recognition for their one-sided struggle against the National Rifle Association and the "Privacy of Firearm Owners" law signed in 2011. That law forbade physicians from asking patients whether they have guns and ammunition at home.

Family practitioner Bernd Wollschlaeger of Miami, pediatricians Judy Schaechter and Tommy Schechtman,  the Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and other medical societies sued Gov. Rick Scott soon after he signed the bill.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri supports a Connecticut senator’s bill that would require background checks on ammunition sales, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Lawmakers Search for Solutions in Gun Violence Debate

Jan 31, 2013

As Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz met with gun rights advocates in South Florida to figure out ways to reduce violence, her friend and former congresswoman Gabby Giffords pleaded with leaders in Washington for stronger gun control, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.

Even though laws in Florida prevented 18-year-old Benjamin Bishop from buying a gun, that didn’t stop him from getting one, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Florida House of Representatives

In the wake of the Newtown elementary school shooting, Florida lawmakers are looking at ways to better treat the mentally ill, according to the Palm Beach Post.

Experts say two-thirds of the mentally ill in Florida go without treatment. Meanwhile, the state ranks 49th in the nation on spending, with more funds going to hospitalization than prevention, the Palm Beach Post reports.

President Obama, trying to clarify an NRA-backed clause in the Affordable Care Act, says doctors can ask patients about guns and public health agencies can collect data.

Film District and Incentive and Filmed Entertainment

In the wake of the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre, the nation's policymakers are looking for ways to make it harder to get high-powered assault weapons and easier for those who need mental-health treatment to get it.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden released ambitious proposals to curb gun violence at a news conference on Wednesday. (See video.)  The plan came in response to last month’s elementary-school massacre in Newtown, CT.

Wollschlaeger: Guns and the Affordable Care Act

Jan 8, 2013

The tragedy of the  horrific shooting in Newtown Connecticut gradually faded from the daily news. Sadly, this shooting will be followed by another one and we will continue to seek answers to why it happened and what we could have done to prevent another massacre. 

In my opinion we have to recognize that the National Rifle Association (NRA) tentacles of influence have penetrated all aspects of our lives.

Naples Daily News

Hundreds of people waited in long lines to attend a gun show at the Central Florida Fairgrounds last weekend, the Orlando Sentinel reports. The biggest seller at the gun show was the pricey AR-15 rifle, the weapon used in the deadly Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, according to the Sentinel.