St. Pete City Council's Kornell wants assault weapons ban & gun show loopholes closed
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01/10/13 Janelle Irwin
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As elementary schools across the Tampa Bay area are increasing security in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting, St. Pete City Council member Steve Kornell wants the city to lobby Tallahassee to implement an assault weapons ban. During a city council meeting Thursday, the entire council including Kornell voted to move the matter to the Legislative Affairs committee.

Issues surrounding gun control have become a major talking point around water coolers nationwide. Kornell, who represents residents in the Pinellas Point area of South St. Pete wants the city to weigh in on the debate. According to Kornell, one illegal gun is removed from the street by St. Petersburg Police each day.

“Some of those illegal guns are purchased at gun shows and because people can go in and buy it with no record kept, no background check anything like that. They can hand it off right to one of those people who should not have it like a convicted felon, a minor, somebody who’s mentally ill – any of those things could happen.”

So Kornell wants state lawmakers to focus on reducing some of the loopholes at gun shows. A lobbying effort by one of the states most densely populated cities could help with that.

“The people are asking for help. There’s a problem across our state with guns being used illegally and Tallahassee just says, ‘oh no, there’s no problem.’”

Kornell, a school social worker, said he’s heard from critics of gun control legislation that more focus needs to be put on mental health programs. Kornell agrees that gun control isn’t the silver bullet to cut out violent crimes, but neither is mental health.

“I would start with some of the professional organizations – National Association of Social Workers, American Psychological Association – they have set standards for the number of students per mental health professional and we’re way above those.”

According to a post on former state Representative Rick Kriseman’s Facebook page, Mayor Bill Foster said he doesn’t want to get involved in gun control debates because it’s a national issue. But Kornell disagrees.

“It’s a city affair. Those 365 illegal guns are St. Petersburg’s problem and so, I think we should have that discussion.”

The Legislative Affairs and Intergovernmental Relations committee, or LAIR, will decide whether or not to allocate resources to lobby for an assault weapons ban or other gun control issues. As of today, Kornell is not a member of that committee.



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