Breaking News
More () »

Florida families impacted by active shooters, gun violence protest proposed gun legislation

Protestors gathered at St. Pete City Hall to fight proposed legislation that would make Florida gun laws less restrictive.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Fathers like Manuel Oliver, and aunts like Gail Schwartz were once strangers, but now? They are permanently linked by the same pain.

Oliver lost his son, and Schwartz lost her nephew on the same day in 2018.

"He said 'Bye Dad, I love you,"' Oliver said, describing the last interaction he had with his son as he dropped him off at school before the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting.

Schwartz says her nephew’s life was also cut short that day.

"A shooter came into the classroom, and killed him and two others,” she said.

On Thursday, Schwartz, Oliver, and other families impacted by gun violence gathered at St. Pete City Hall to fight proposed legislation that would make Florida gun laws less restrictive.

One bill in the House, HB 1543, would reduce the minimum age to buy a firearm in Florida. Another, CS/HB 543 would make sweeping changes to gun laws that include legalizing concealed carry without a permit, and allowing armed "guardians" in private schools.

Manuel says he knows first-hand that self-proclaimed "good guys" with guns won't always stop the bad guy.

"It was an officer there,” he said, speaking of the school resource officer that was at Marjory Stoneman Douglas the day of the Parkland school shooting. “He was supposed to protect the kids, but then you have a shooter with an AR-15 and thousands of rounds of ammunition."

Representative Bobby Payne, who is listed as a sponsor for the bills, sent 10 Tampa Bay a statement regarding the proposed legislation that would reduce the minimum age to purchase a firearm.

"I filed HB 1543 to ensure all law-abiding adults in Florida can exercise their constitutional rights," Payne said in a statement. "Because long guns (shotguns and rifles) can be gifted to 18-20 year olds but cannot be purchased by them, this bill ensures that the Second Amendment rights of all Floridians are no longer conditional on the rights of others. Currently, Florida is among only a handful of states, like Hawaii and New York, who limit long gun sales to those 21 and up. HB 1543 fixes that, reclaiming law-abiding Floridians’ constitutional liberty."

Before You Leave, Check This Out