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Florida Gun Sales: Tougher Laws Needed?

Whether a criminal background check is done may depend 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 what do Florida voters think?

"Assault weapons are not needed by the general public -- not for hunting, not for defending/protecting yourself," Sue Miseroy wrote on New Tampa Patch's Facebook page.

"Founded our nation and been used to save countless lives," Terry Walters, Jr. added. "They can be tools for good and bad."

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+
Gary De Pury January 04, 2013 at 02:45 AM
Assault Weapon was coined by gun control advocates to make some rifles seem scarier than others. Using it just demonstrates a propensity to be a pawn in the propaganda trade. In 1988, an anti-handgun group led by the former communications director for the National Coalition to Ban Handguns encouraged gun control supporters to recognize that efforts to get handguns banned had failed and to shift their energies to semi-automatic “assault weapons,” describing it as a “new topic” that could “strengthen the handgun restriction lobby.” Intimating to gun control supporters that they could convince people into going along with an “assault weapon” ban by blurring the legal and mechanical differences between fully-auto & semi-auto firearms, the group said “the public’s confusion over fully-auto machine guns vs semi-auto assault weapons—anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun—can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on [semi-automatic] weapons.” Further, Bushmaster is not a type of WEAPON....it is a brand name. The media pouncing on this and constantly calling it a BUSHMASTER TYPE ASSAULT WEAPON is amazingly biased. The Perpetrator was running away in NIKE TYPE FOOT WEAR AND LEVI STRAUSS TYPE MATERIAL COVERING HIS BODY FROM HIS WAIST DOWN WHILE CARRYING A COL. SANDERS TYPE FRIED CHICKEN?????? We get that you are biased, but at least PRETEND to form an educated opinion!

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