Tampa moms demand gun control

06/03/13 Janelle Irwin
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A group of Tampa moms wants lawmakers in Washington to put gun control legislation back on the table. It failed earlier this year. During a rally Friday in Tampa’s Curtis Hixon Downtown Waterfront Park, members of the group Moms Demand Action called on the public to reach out to their elected leaders to push for expanded background checks and a ban on military assault weapons.

The group Moms Demand Action lined up twenty chairs, each with a photo of one of the young victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre. Maggie Larguier is the Tampa chapter leader.

“It is possible that nothing would have prevented Newtown, but what I can say is if Adam Lanza had a hand gun rather than a military assault weapon with a high capacity magazine, there would be more Newtown children living today because of using a handgun verses using the type of weapon he used.”

Two months ago, the U.S. Senate voted down a bill introduced by Pennsylvania Republican Senator Pat Toomey and West Virginia Democrat, Joe Manchin that would have required criminal background checks on all U.S. gun buyers. Now with lawmakers back in their home states for a summer recess, gun control groups nationwide are trying to revive the bi-partisan legislation.

“Ninety-one percent of the citizens of this country support a background check. It is a common sense law that everyone should undergo a background check. Private sales constitute 40% of total gun sales and 40% of those private sales are not, they do not involve background checks. It is absolutely irrational and it needs to change. It needs to change.”

The gun control debate has gained traction nationwide because of the Newtown tragedy. Parents of slain children and the daughter of the school principal who was killed trying to protect students have spoken in favor of what proponents are calling common sense legislation. Larguier hopes the persistence will pay off.

“We are continuing our efforts on a long-term basis to mobilize the community to take action by calling their elected officials and telling them that they’re in support of the background check bill, they’re in support of banning military-style assault weapons and high capacity magazines with ten rounds or over. At Newtown, Adam Lanza was able to fire off 154 bullets in less than five minutes. One young boy who was 6-years-old and I apologize for the graphic dialogue here, but he had 11 bullets in his body from a high capacity magazine.”

Despite intermittent rain during the rally, two dozen activists waved signs to passing motorists to a barrage of honks and cheers. Pam Eliopulos is the gun violence prevention group leader for the Tampa chapter of Organizing For Action.

“I think Newtown woke everyone up and we all realized that these kids could have been our kids, that this elementary school could have been any elementary school here in Tampa or anywhere in this country and if we don’t take sensible steps to ensure that people who are mentally ill and help ensure that criminals don’t have access to guns unfettered in this country, we are not doing the best that we can do as a nation for our children.”

In April, 54 Senators voted in favor of the bill while 46 voted against it. If gun control advocates are to win- they’ll need 60 votes, six more than they got two months ago. Florida’s junior US Senator, Marco Rubio, voted no.

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