Florida Gun Sales: Are Tougher Laws Needed?

Getting a criminal background check done depends on whether firearms are bought in retail stores on from online private sellers.

If someone is breaking into your home, do you want to be armed with a handgun or an assault rifle?

That's the question that Alex Jackson, who sells guns at Stan's Pawn Shop in  St. Petersburg, poses to people who bring up gun control.

For Jackson, the answer is easy. "You want the fire power of an assault rifle for self-protection."

In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, some politicians and groups are urging reforms that include a ban on assault weapons and high capacity ammunition clips, as well as background checks for anyone who purchases a gun.

The gun that killed the 20 first-graders and seven adults in Newtown, Conn., was a Bushmater assault rifle.

Currently, bricks-and-mortar retailers, such as Stan's Pawn Shop, on 5th Avenue North, are required to do a criminal background check first. Stan's does not specialize in gun sales but will buy or sell assault rifles and other types of firearms.

Jennifer Arroyave, who works at Stan's Pawn Shop, says that in addition to doing a criminal background check, she also makes a point of talking with buyers to see if they seem "fit" to buy a gun.

Arroyave said that "visual check" is important.

But practices are different online.

There is no mandate for a background check for private sellers online who use websites like Florida Gun Trader to advertise guns for sale. The transactions are more anonymous.

Although it is illegal for anyone to sell a gun to a felon, criminal background checks are not required. Currently, there are 1,927 guns for sale by Central Florida private sellers on the Florida Gun Trader's website.

"Upon finalization of sale, we recommend that Florida Gun Trader members verify the identity of the buyer (state or federal ID) and exchange a complete a bill of sale for both the buyer and seller's information," Florida Gun Trader advises sellers on its site.

Florida Gun Trader also advises sellers to try to meet buyers at a gun range or a private residence as part of the transaction.

Is Gun Reform a Partisan Issue?

Whether gun laws should change is divided along party lines in Florida.

A "Gun Control" scorecard that reform advocates just released grades politicians on whether they have voted for stricter legislation in the past.

Florida's Republican lawmakers all received a "D" or worse. Most of the Democrats were rated with "A"s. (See chart below.)

But Florida voters may not be as hard line.

St. Petersburg resident Anne Marie Jordan, who volunteered on the Mitt Romey for president campaign, said she just hopes that lawmakers use reason during this emotional time.

"There will always be evil in this world. Our government cannot be expected to protect us from everyone and everything," she said.

Jordan was not focused on the details of gun control legislation. She was more concerned about the erosion of constitutional rights.

"When only the government has arms," she said, "we surrender our freedom."

From the Huffington Post:

Gun Control Scorecard

Between 2008 and 2012 all but 25 members of the incoming 113th Congress established voting records on gun control. The NRA uses those records to create a grade for each congressperson. This table, based on Project Vote Smart data, shows an inverse of those grades. High grades indicate a history of voting for stricter gun restrictions; lower grades indicate opposition to restrictions.

Brown, Corrine FL House 3 Dem A+ Buchanan, Vern FL House 13 Rep D- Castor, Kathy FL House 11 Dem A+ Crenshaw, Ander FL House 4 Rep D- DeSantis, Ron FL House 6 Rep D- Deutch, Ted FL House 19 Dem A+ Diaz-Balart, Mario FL House 21 Rep D- Frankel, Lois FL House 22 Dem A+ Garcia, Joe FL House 26 Dem NA Grayson, Alan FL House 9 Dem C+ Hastings, Alcee FL House 23 Dem A+ Mica, John FL House 7 Rep D- Miller, Jefferson FL House 1 Rep F Murphy, Patrick FL House 18 Dem B+ Nelson, Bill FL Senate -- Dem F Nugent, Rich FL House 5 Rep D- Posey, Bill FL House 15 Rep D- Radel, Trey FL House 19 Rep D- Rooney, Thomas FL House 16 Rep D- Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana FL House 18 Rep D Ross, Dennis FL House 12 Rep D- Rubio, Marco FL Senate -- Rep D+ Southerland, Steve FL House 2 Rep D- Wasserman Schultz, Debbie FL House 20 Dem A+ Webster, Daniel FL House 8 Rep D- Wilson, Frederica FL House 17 Dem A+ Yoho, Ted FL House 3 Rep D- Young, Bill FL House 10 Rep D+
Steve December 21, 2012 at 01:09 PM
I belonged to the NRA years ago, when it truly represented sportsmen, hunters, an occasional shooting hobbiests. Now, it is become a front for the gun industry--getting most of its budget and virtually all of its lobbying funds from manufacturers. It has also been taken over by extremists and ultra-right-wing political factions. Like the Tea Party, which fronts for billionaires, the NRA fronts for factions I no longer wish to be associated with, and they have done untold damage, not only through their dangerous stands on assault weapons, but on the culture of our country. It's time that responsible gun-owners dissociate themselves from the NRA.
Dharma December 21, 2012 at 01:33 PM
Oh that is so simple If you can’t do a background check on someone you can’t buy on line. Simple! Use see how that is done. Then that is something that those dealers will have to figure at how to sell their death/killing weapons to people in a way that is reasonable. In fact owning a weapon isn’t necessary why are you going to kill anything or anyone?
S. Ripley December 21, 2012 at 02:12 PM
1. Require background check/wait periods for private sales & transfers. 2. Require mandatory training for purchase, not just concealed carry. 3. Expand training to include significant time on exercising good judgment, not just safety and shooting proficiency. 4. Impose stiff penalties/jail time for legal owners who fail to properly secure their weapons and/or negligently allow others to access them. 5. No assault weapons ban. Despite how scary they look and how creepy fans of these devices are, there is little evidence that banning specific weapon types will have any meaningful impact.
sparky December 21, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Get real. Do you think the guy that Robb's you house with a gun has undergone a background check beyond the one obtained at his last felony hearing? Put that sign in you front yard saying "Ban gun and ban violence"and it will announce to the world that you don't have a gun and are begging to get robed. Two years ago three 17y.o. Men tried to rob my neighbor at 8:30 in the morning. They were caught with a loaded handgun. No gun check required when you are underage is there? Just buy or borrow it down in the hood and drive to north St. Pete to use it so your momma won't know. Ripleys rules have no bearing since concealed carry peopl want to know how to protect their family and practice. Have you noticed when criminals are shot by homeowners who are armed that the criminal while possessing a firearm and a threat miss the owner. We aim and fire to protect ourselves just like our right to bear arms was intended.
Tom M December 22, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Here's a patch from Massachusetts regarding gun control. http://stoneham.patch.com/articles/should-massachusetts-gun-control-laws-be-loosened


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