A Message from Sheriff Scott Israel
LEGISLATORS, DO YOUR JOB AND PASS COMMON SENSE GUN LEGISLATION NOW
How many more innocent lives must perish before our legislators pass meaningful and common sense gun legislation? How many more tragic attacks like those at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Sandy Hook Elementary and the Pulse nightclub need to occur before rational thought prevails?
Broward mourns five more lives lost in a tragic mass shooting – especially as this one occurred in our own backyard. It should be clear to everyone that dangerous individuals like alleged airport shooter Esteban Santiago, who clearly demonstrated signs of mental illness, should never have been allowed to own a gun.
In fact, any person suffering from certain disqualifying mental illness should not be able to buy, possess or carry any type of firearm – period. The same applies to convicted felons and individuals who are on the federal government’s terrorist “no-fly” list. We shouldn't be allowing people in these narrow categories to buy or carry firearms.
The statistics are telling. In just the last 12 months alone, 76 innocent victims died and scores more were injured due to U.S. mass shootings. Yet unbelievably, some argue arming more individuals is the solution. That goes for some legislators in Tallahassee, who appear more concerned about passing laws written by the gun lobbyists that would allow guns into classrooms and government meetings.
That dangerous line of thinking will only lead to further violence and bloodshed. As Sheriff of one of the largest law enforcement agencies in the country, I understand public safety better than gun industry lobbyists and those elected officials who help advance their agenda. I can say with certainty that more guns are not the answer. Imagine the chaos if everyone at the airport was armed with a firearm. Countless individuals would certainly have been caught in the wild crossfire and hit by stray bullets.
One study which examined New York’s annual firearms discharge reports showed police officers hit their targets 34 percent of the time. The hit ratio was even lower at other agencies. If law enforcement officers who carry guns daily and regularly train are successful at hitting their targets at that rate, it is clear that ordinary citizens would be significantly less accurate.
It would also make the job of law enforcement far more difficult and divert them from the real threat. In such a stressful and chaotic situation, with shots being fired in all directions, how could we expect law enforcement to recognize the good guys from the bad ones?
The men and women of the Broward Sheriff's Office, local and federal law enforcement agencies and first responders did a phenomenal job rushing into a dangerous and chaotic situation. These heroes put their lives at risk to protect residents and visitors alike. We shouldn’t make it even more dangerous for them.
Let me be clear: gun control isn’t about restricting freedom or taking firearms legally obtained by law-abiding citizens. Instead, it is about common sense laws that help identify people with a history of criminal convictions, violence, certain high-risk mental illnesses or are on the FBI’s terrorist watch list. For years, I have been on the forefront in demanding common sense gun legislation, including closing the gun show loophole, reinstating the assault weapons ban and fighting against open carry laws.
It’s time our elected officials in Tallahassee and Washington finally do the same and tackle this life-threatening issue once and for all.
Sheriff Scott Israel
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