ORLANDO, Fla. – Rep. Val Demings (D-Orlando), told News 6 she wants Florida’s current "stand your ground" law repealed and rewritten.
The former Orlando police chief is joining a bi-partisan effort on Capitol Hill to pass legislation for universal background checks.
Demings spoke to News 6 Investigator Mike Holfeld about the gun issues facing Florida and the country. Read what she had to say below:
Q. You have said before you want Florida’s "stand your ground" law repealed -- why?
A. Well, look, this is a topic that's very, very, near and dear to my heart, it even starts before I joined the police department. My father was a hunter and I used to go hunting with him and my siblings. So, I have been around guns all of my life and I certainly respect a person's right to bear arms. We've seen someone lose their life over a parking space, I don't believe that is who we are and I don't believe that is the state that that kind of law is representative of who we are. It is about preserving and protecting life, and I do believe that "stand your ground" has just given too many people the right to shoot first and ask questions later.
Q. Would you be open to rewriting the law, perhaps a compromise?
A. I would hope everybody from the NRA and others who really care about responsible gun ownership, really care about preservation of life, would look at some of the devastating cases that have resulted after the "stand your ground" law was passed in Florida and other places, and they would come back to the table, this is not what the law was intended to do. Let's take another look at it.
Q. I understand you are a co-sponsor of HR-8 legislation for universal background checks.
A. Let's look at the deaths associated with gun violence in this country. It has been eight years since we've had a hearing on the Hill on gun violence. We have to find a better way to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, terrorists and the mentally ill. We know that anyone can walk into a gun show, H.R. 8 which would require that all gun sales, all gun purchases or guns that are traded to whoever the individual is who will buy or ultimately own that weapon, will have to go through a background check. Now there are some exceptions like private sales or private trading between a father and son for example, but there are so many other places where you don't, so this closes that loophole.
For more on News 6's coverage of firearm-related issues, go to ClickOrlando.com/GunViolence.