Visiting Tampa, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson renews calls for assault rifle ban

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson elaborated on his support to ban assault rifles and implement more comprehensive background checks in order to purchase a gun.

TAMPA, Fla. -- U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson continues to criticize Florida Gov. Rick Scott's plan to keep schools safe.

Countering the governor, Nelson wants an assault rifle ban and more comprehensive background checks.

Nelson was in Tampa on Sunday, Feb. 25, to speak to members of the Bethel AME Church. During his speech, he touched on gun law reform, felons' voting rights and equality.

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Prior to speaking at the church service, Nelson met with the media to discuss gun laws and Scott's response to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. He wants to raise the age in which one could buy a firearm to 21 and keep them out of the hands of someone considered mentally ill.


"Well it doesn’t do enough because he doesn’t break ranks with the NRA, he’s not listening to the people," Nelson said.

"He’s listening to the NRA. If you want to get right to the bottom line, what needs to be done is you’ve got to have comprehensive background checks in the purchase of a gun."

More: Gov. Rick Scott: FDLE will investigate response into Parkland school shooting

While Nelson admitted Scott's plan is a step in the right direction, Nelson believes a ban on assault rifles is critical.

"These are weapons that just inflict such mass casualties," Nelson said. "And we saw in the 10-year period of the law banning assault weapons that the murders, the massacres, the carnage was so much lower, during that period of time when the law was in effect."

Nelson believes this most recent tragedy in Parkland will motivate change because this time students and families across the country are making their voices heard.

"Their hope gives me hope," Nelson said. "Their determination gives me determination and I believe that something has turned, something is different this time."

A few hours after Scott announced his proposed plan Friday, Nelson released this statement:

"Students, parents and teachers across our state are demanding action - but instead of listening to them, it’s clear the governor is once again choosing to listen only to the NRA. The governor’s plan doesn’t do one thing to ensure comprehensive criminal background checks or ban assault rifles, like the AR-15. His leadership is weak and by recommending raising the age to 21 he is doing the bare minimum. Enough is enough. We need to get these assault rifles off our streets and expand criminal background checks for anyone acquiring a gun."

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