After two people were killed and almost 20 were injured in a shooting in Tampa on Saturday night, Governor Ron DeSantis offered state resources to local police officers.
State Democrats have voiced concern over Florida’s lax gun restrictions following the Tampa incident, which occurred only days after the deadliest mass shooting in the United States in 2023, in which a 40-year-old gunman killed 18 people in Lewiston, Maine.
A dispute between two groups apparently led to gunfire on Halloween night in Tampa’s popular Ybor City district. At a press conference on Sunday am, Tampa Police Chief Lee Bercaw revealed that the attackers began fire as revellers were flooding the streets after nightclubs and bars had closed. Two persons were killed and 18 were hurt; however, Bercaw speculated that some of the injuries were due to a stampede as people tried to escape. A 14-year-old boy was reportedly one of the victims, according to a local news outlet.
After the incident in Maine, presidential candidate Ron DeSantis suggested that more people with severe mental health difficulties be institutionalised against their choice. Multiple news outlets have reported that the gunman, who was found dead by police on Saturday, was institutionalised this summer due to hearing voices.
DeSantis stated Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he believes “we tend to pass the buck with some of these people and just kind of hope that they don’t do anything wrong when there are a lot of signs.” Some of the extremists who are showing symptoms of being a serious threat to society should be dealt with more harshly, in my opinion.
DeSantis, as governor, has been consistently opposed to measures that would limit citizens’ ability to carry firearms. He signed a bill legalising concealed carry in Florida without a permit last year.
Democratic leaders in Florida have pointed the finger at the state’s lax gun restrictions as the cause of Saturday’s massacre. “bad decisions made in a split second and the proliferation of readily available guns are responsible for these almost daily incidents,” Democratic Mayor of Tampa Jane Castor stated on X. We can change half of this equation, the part we control.
We need to stop condoning violence like this,” stated Florida Representative Lindsay Cross (D-St. Petersburg), while Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried urged Congress to enact “sensible gun laws.”
The Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando in 2016 left 49 people dead and another 53 wounded, while the Parkland high school shooting in 2018 murdered 17, many of them high school students. These are only two examples of the state’s tragic history of mass shootings. And in August, a 21-year-old guy shot and killed three people in Jacksonville, Florida for racial reasons.
President Joe Biden put a gun safety legislation into law last year after a mass shooter killed 19 children and 2 adults in Uvalde, Texas. The law allocated $13 billion to mental health and school safety policy programmes. Other reforms Biden has asked for, such as a ban on assault-style firearms and universal background checks, do not have the votes to pass in Congress.