Karla Hernandez spoke about the importance of gun reform at a press event on September 12, 2022. Credit: Charlie Crist’s Facebook.
Karla Hernández-Mats, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist’s nominee for lieutenant governor of Florida, on Monday said she’d come from “humble beginnings” and experienced gun violence at an early age.
Her remarks came as Crist, who is making a pledge to tackle gun violence if elected as governor, received an endorsement from a political action committee focused on gun control founded by former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who attended a press conference in Miami on Monday.
Giffords was shot along with 18 others in 2011 during a meeting in Arizona. She’d been a Congresswoman at that time but resigned in 2012 following her injuries.
Crist and Hernández-Mats also were joined by former Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida and a student from the Florida International University (FIU).
Crist said he was honored for the endorsement from Gifford.
“I am humbled to be here. Gabby Giffords is a national hero, an international hero and because of her tragic situation in Arizona and more so now her tremendous courage for our country, her service in the United States Congress and the fight that she carries,” he said.
During the press conference, Hernández-Mats, said she had experienced gun violence when she was 18. “My grandmother got a call that her first born son had been shot and he eventually passed away,” Hernández-Mats said. “I was raised by my grandmother, and I shared my room with my grandmother.”
She added: “So I know that my grandmother was never really able to overcome that pain of having to bury her child. So, this has been something that is really important to me and to my family for many, many years.”
“But more importantly I am also a mother of two, a teacher to many and a citizen of this great nation who has really grown tired of the headlines born of senseless gun violence and preventable gun deaths,” Hernández-Mats said.
She argued that it’s important to protect teachers and students from gun violence. And she said that Crist has laid out a plan called “Safer Florida for All,” which offers solutions to tackle gun safety in the state.
Among many measures in the plan, Crist is calling for a ban on assault weapons and requiring universal background checks for gun sales.
“In it, he details the core actions he will take to solve the issues of gun violence in Florida,” Hernández-Mats said. “It’s beyond time for Florida to act and keep its residents safe. That’s what the Crist-Hernández ticket represents, safer children, less worried parents, and a safer Florida for all.”
At the press event, former Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell said she has “been fighting for so many years to pass … safety laws that will protect our children from these senseless tragedies,” including when she was in Congress.
“We know that gun safety laws work. They are popular. Gun violence is a winning issue here in the state of Florida,” she said, adding that “young Latino men experience some of the highest rates of gun violence.”
Giffords spoke at the event as well, saying that “our lives can change so quickly,” due to senseless acts of violence. “Mine did when I was shot. But I never give up hope. I choose to make a new start,” Giffords said.
Giffords said she is relearning how to walk and talk. “I am finding joy in small things, riding my bike. We are living in challenging times, but we are up for the challenge,” she said.
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