Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried speaking in the Florida Cabinet room on. Sept. 1, 2021. Credit: Danielle J. Brown
In a backdrop of recent mass shootings in New York and Texas as well as Florida’s Parkland massacre in 2018, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is promoting an information campaign to better inform concealed carry license holders how to safely store their guns to try to reduce gun violence.
“We believe an increasing education about these simple safety measures will help save lives,” Fried said during the virtual press conference.
She noted that firearms are the leading cause of death for American children and teens, according to BeSMARTforKids.org. The group Be SMART participated in the press conference.
Fried is a gunowner herself, she said.
“I understand how to be responsible and to make sure that we are being responsible in how we carry a firearm. And I know how important it is to take simple steps to help keep myself and the people around me safe,” Fried said during the press conference. “We will be mailing this information out to everyone in the state who receives a concealed weapons permit and will be available to all of our licensees and all of our licensing and tax collectors offices.”
The information campaign will promote safe gun storage and behavior, such as making sure ammunition is stored separately from the gun, modeling responsible behavior around guns and requesting that the homes that children visit also responsibly secure their guns.
Fried’s press conference on Wednesday comes as testimony continues in the sentencing trial of Nikolas Cruz. He was the shooter who killed 17 students and staff at Broward County’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2018. Cruz could be put to death or be sent to prison for the rest of his life, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
More recently, mass shootings at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York in May and an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas shortly after, have reignited debates on how to reduce gun violence in the United States.
Fried noted that while gun control conversations tend to center on mass shootings, we “don’t talk enough about the shootings that are happening every day.”
“I believe there are responsible steps we can take to make our community safer that don’t infringe on the constitutional rights of responsible gun owners like expanding background checks and red flag laws, closing loopholes, banning large capacity magazines and keeping assault rifles off of our streets,” Fried said during the Wednesday press conference.
Fried is an attorney, elected statewide Cabinet member and a Democratic gubernatorial candidate in the August primary facing off against U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, a Democrat. Crist is a former Republican governor, Attorney General and Education Commissioner. He said he plans to ban assault rifles entirely if he becomes governor.
Fried did not make the same declaration. But she restated Wednesday that she will be “keeping assault rifles off of our streets.”
Meanwhile, Gov. Ron DeSantis, is campaigning for reelection this year and is considered a potential presidential pick for 2024.
He wants to sign a so-called “constitutional carry” bill before leaving his position as governor. Constitutional carry refers to allowing people to wield guns without a concealed carry permit.
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