On Thursday, gun control advocates rallied behind Brandon Wolf at the Capitol to appeal to a predominately Republican legislature to hear the Democrats’ gun safety bills. Brandon Wolf is a survivor of the shooting at Pulse Nightclub where 49 people died and dozens more were injured. He addressed the Florida legislature with advocates behind him.
He conveyed his anxiety, explaining that he still struggles to sleep at night as a result of his traumatic experience at the nightclub when the shooting occurred:
“I still wake up screaming, covered in sweat. Nine months ago, I hid in a bathroom stall. The smell of blood and smoke burning my nose while a man strolled through the doors of Pulse Nightclub and opened fire. I listened to gunshot after gunshot. I stared death in the face.”
At 28 years old, Wolf is more conscious of his mortality than he was less than a year ago. He lost two of his friends in the shooting—Drew Leinonen and Juan Guerrero—were among those killed by the gunman.
“In just one minute, he got off 30 rounds, and while I sat frozen on that floor, 13 of those rounds killed my best friends. So I hope you can forgive me for not understanding on where we finally draw the line. When is enough enough? It wasn’t enough where 49 people were murdered at Pulse? It wasn’t enough when a movie theater became a hunting ground? And it certainly wasn’t enough when we served up kindergarten children as sacrifices.”
Recent legislation with heavy support from the National Rifle Association have had hearings before the legislature—bills that will likely increase access to firearms if passed. One bill in particular passed the Senate floor Wednesday, establishing new provisions for the Stand Your Ground law as it pertains to the role of prosecutors during pre-trial immunity hearings for cases found to involve the law. In response to the passing of that law, Sen. Gary Farmer (D-Fort Lauderdale) spoke in the context of Wolf’s appeal:
“I am disappointed that we passed that legislation, but it was taken up, it was heard, it was argued, and the members were allowed to vote. We would simply like that opportunity with our gun safety legislation.”
Sen. Farmer is among the Democrats who have filed yet unheard gun reform bills. His proposal aims to make background checks a requirement for purchasing firearms at gun shows, extending the purview of said background checks beyond just the gun shop.
Sen. Daphne Campbell (D-Miami) has also proposed a bill of her own that has yet to be heard. Her gun safety bill would mandate that holders of licenses for concealed weapons be subjected to a mental health evaluation. “Can you imagine,” Campbell said, “I send my child to school, and I get one phone call: ‘my child is gone by someone who’s sick mentally.’ No one knew! But, he has a gun permit. It’s a simple bill. Before you have a gun permit, I need to know if you’re sick or not.”
Democratic lawmakers threaten to continue bombarding the legislature with gun safety and gun reform bills every year until the proposals are formally heard, giving Republicans an ultimatum of sorts.