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Florida House Democrats seek special session on gun reform

'What led my doing this? I couldn't sleep,' Rep. Joseph Geller says
Posted at 6:09 PM, Jun 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-02 18:09:04-04

After recent mass shootings in Buffalo, Uvalde, and now Tulsa — there's a growing call among Democrats in the Florida House to again return to Tallahassee for a special session. This time they want to address gun reform in the Sunshine State.

This comes after Democrats urged the GOP majority to take up gun reform during last week's session on property insurance without success.

"What should we do, nothing?" said state Rep. Joseph Geller, D-Aventura. "I mean, really, nothing? No, no, we have to do something. We have to try to do something. What led to my doing this? I couldn't sleep.”

Geller sent a Wednesday letter seeking that early return to Florida's secretary of state in hopes fellow lawmakers would join him. The Democrat said it was time the Legislature addressed what he called an "epidemic of gun violence" in the nation.

State Rep. Joseph Geller, June 2, 2022
State Rep. Joseph Geller explains why he is seeking a special session on gun reforms in Florida.

Geller proposed several policy changes that he thought might entice bipartisan support including the following:

  • Regulation of high-capacity rifle magazines 
  • Universal background checks 
  • Expansion of Florida's red flag law, extending firearm intervention beyond the police

"You know, I'm an optimist," Geller said. "I mean, I'm a Democrat in the Florida House. You got to be an optimist with that job."

Read Geller's letter below:

The politician was confident he would get at least 20% of the legislature to send similar letters. That would trigger a formal poll. A 60% majority from both chambers will then be required to make the gun session happen.

But, even Geller admitted that it would be tough without support from the GOP majority. Many Republicans have resisted further gun restrictions after lawmakers created the current red flag law and upped the purchase age of guns to 21 post-Parkland.

"Democrats will never miss an opportunity to try to seize guns, and I think that's what you are seeing here," state Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay, said. "After Parkland, we took action, and, fortunately, we have not had another issue since."

Rep. Randy Fine, discusses special session on gun reform
Rep. Randy Fine says what's needed is more morality in America — not more gun control.

Fine, an unabashed Second Amendment advocate, is expected to vote no if state officials conduct a lawmaker poll. The Republican lawmaker believed more “morality” is needed in America — not more gun control.

"Taking away guns doesn't solve the problem,” Fine said. “Mental health only addresses the symptom. The problem is our country's soul is broken."

The next step will be at the secretary of state's office. It is there that officials will count up any letters supporting a special gun session over the next few days. If Geller meets the 20% threshold, the lawmaker poll could come soon after.

Meanwhile, lawmakers like Fine still plan to push for constitutional carry in the next regular session. It would allow Floridians to carry guns without training or a permit. Gov. Ron DeSantis has vowed to sign it into law before leaving office.