Pulse victim's mother to Congress: 'Choose life over money,' ban assault weapons

Florida senator, Pulse survivors call for gun safety changes in Florida

ORLANDO, Fla. – Following the mass shooting in Las Vegas, Pulse survivors and victims' family members stood with Orlando politicians Wednesday calling for the ban of assault riffles in Florida.

Florida state Sen. Linda Stewart said she plans to file new legislation that would ban the sale of civilian versions of military assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Stewart (D-Orlando) discussed the proposed bill, SB 196, at the Orange County Courthouse Wednesday at 11 a.m along with gun safety advocates, Pulse shooting survivors and victims' family members. Other Orlando-area elected officials also attended in support including Florida state Sen. Victor Torres Jr. and Orange County Soil and Water district supervisor Daisy Morales.

"SB 196 is intended to prevent weapons specifically designed to deliver high rates of lethal gunfire without the need to pause and reload from falling into the hands of people such as the shooter who carried out the Pulse nightclub attack," according to a news release. "The ban would not apply to guns already purchased in Florida."

Stewart filled a bill in the Florida Senate last year after the shooting at Pulse nightclub, but it never got a hearing.

Pulse victim Amanda Alvear's mother, Mayra Alvear, spoke to the crowd through angry tears. 

"You never know when something like this is going to hit home," Mayra Alvear said. "Never in  a million years did I think that something like that would happen to someone I love."

Amanda was one of 49 people killed on June 12, 2016, at the gay nightclub. Mayra Alvear said she was confused why anyone would need the type of weapon like the one that killed her daughter.

"I don't know what Congress is waiting is for," she said. "Choose life over money."

Pulse survivor Angel Santiago Jr. wore his purple Orlando United T-shirt as he spoke to the courthouse crowd Wednesday. He listed off all the recent mass shootings: Sandy Hook, Pulse and now Las Vegas.

"Each of these hateful acts were committed by a single individual with an assault riffle," Santiago said. "We can't accept mass shootings as a new normal in our country."

Santiago encouraged Florida legislators to support Stewart's bill, "so we can finally have some positive change here in Orlando."

Also on Wednesday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said she plans to introduce a bill to ban bump stocks and other devices that can make semi-automatic weapons fully automatic.

Authorities in Las Vegas said the gunman, who killed 59 people and injured more than 500 others, used a bump stock to automate 12 of the weapons found in his Mandalay Bay Resort hotel room.

The device allows weapons to fire hundreds of rounds per minute with one pull of the trigger, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The modification can be done legally and costs around $99, reported the New York Times.