“I want you all to hear from me that I’m not going to stop at preemptions or previous court rulings,” Mayor Lauren Poe said.
Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe is doubling down on his stance on gun violence just days after calling on the U.S. Senate to take action to reduce the growing number of mass shootings.
Poe, who has been outspoken about gun violence since taking office, on Thursday got approval from fellow commissioners to join other mayors around the country to work on addressing gun violence.
To that end, city employees will research a series of future recommendations that could affect local changes on gun issues, such as universal background checks, waiting periods or banning assault rifles.
“I want you all to hear from me that I’m not going to stop at preemptions or previous court rulings,” Poe said. “We need every city council and mayor in the country that takes this issue seriously to pass local gun reform legislation so it can be challenged in the courts and we can let the legality of letting our citizens be killed be tested.”
Last week, Poe joined more than 240 mayors from around the country demanding the Senate pass two House resolutions that could help curb gun violence through more thorough background checks and closing loopholes in the current system. The letter came almost a week after shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, where 31 people were killed and more than 50 others injured.
Poe said Thursday that despite elected officials promising to take action following every mass shooting, little has changed. He hopes by the city leaders taking action, it will pressure state legislators to follow.
“Mayors and communities across our country are on the front lines of how we protect citizens from gun violence,” Poe said. “So, while in Washington and Tallahassee, our elected officials have been unwilling to take up these important items for consideration to save lives, it’s left up to us at the local level to do what we can.”
In the last year, Gainesville commissioners voted to support a local resolution that took a stand against arming teachers in schools and sent a letter to the Florida Legislature in 2018 calling for a ban on assault rifles and to enforce more thorough background checks.
U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, a strong Second Amendment supporter, was at Gainesville City Hall for another reason Thursday. Yoho, R-Gainesville, voted against both of the House resolutions Poe is asking the Senate to sign. Yoho said the issue is a state decision and he supports states' rights.
He said lawmakers should focus on getting to the root of the problem, which he said traces back to mental health and violence issues.
“We need to go back to what happened to society in the last four years where this started happening,” Yoho said. “Why is this happening now?”
Yoho said people can try to close loopholes but there will always be a loophole and violence.
“Bad people will do bad things,” he said. “Something has to be done and I will support stuff that goes after the underlying problem.”
Poe quoted the “well-regulated militia” portion of the Second Amendment, while taking issue with those who use it to deflect calls for tighter gun rules despite the increase in mass shootings.
“I cannot fathom an argument that would determine the militia is being well-regulated,” he said. “Not when we’ve had more than 250 mass shootings this year. Not when more than 35,000 people are being killed by people with guns every year.”