A proposal announced by Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson would make the Sunshine State the first in the US to ban a proposal to monitor suspicious sales tied to potential mass shootings, by tracking people who have purchased guns or ammo.
Florida ranks #2 in mass shootings across the nation, and guns are the third-leading cause of death for Florida children ages 1–17, according to data provided by Giffords Law Center.
And now, thanks to a proposal announced by Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson, the Sunshine State could score another grim milestone by becoming the first state in the US to protect gun sale data with the Florida Arms and Ammo Act.
The proposal, Simpson says, is intended to prohibit financial institutions from collecting and monitoring information on Floridians’ firearm and ammunition purchases.
This comes after Visa joined Mastercard and American Express in moving forward with plans to categorize gun shop sales by joining the International Organization for Standardization‘s new merchant code for gun sales. The measure would add a separate “merchant category code” to a list of purchase codes on sales made at retailers. Until the announcement, gun store sales were considered “general merchandise.”
This move, gun reform advocates say, makes it easier to monitor any suspicious sales tied to potential mass shootings, by tracking people who have purchased guns or ammo.
Other states and cities have welcomed the merchant code for gun sales. “When you buy an airline ticket or pay for your groceries, your credit card company has a special code for those retailers. It’s just common sense that we have the same policies in place for gun and ammunition stores,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said to the Associated Press. The California’s teachers’ pension fund was also among those who campaigned for the new code.
A Failure to Support Common Sense Safety Laws
However, the newly elected agriculture commissioner, a Republican, has categorically rejected the new international standards for recording payment transactions.
“We are all blessed to live in the free state of Florida where our Second Amendment rights are valued and protected,” Simpson said, adding that “here in Florida, we are going to fight to protect the rights of Floridians.”
RELATED: Una Dura Realidad: Gun Violence Disproportionally Affects Black and Latino Communities. Here’s What Needs to Be Done.
In Florida, 2,568 people are killed every year by gun violence, yet Republican leaders have consistently failed to support common-sense legislation, such as universal background checks for gun buyers, that could save countless lives.
Democrats Jump to Act
For their part, Sen. Tina Polsky, D-Boca Raton, and Rep. Dan Daley, D-Coral Springs, have filed a measure that would require background checks on the sale or transfer of ammunition. It is named “Jaime’s Law”, after 14-year-old Jaime Guttenberg, one of 17 students and faculty members killed in the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
“Deaths by gun violence continue to increase precipitously in America. In fact, gun violence recently surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of death of our children in this country,” Polsky said in a statement. “We need to take every precaution we can to save lives. If guns require background checks, then so should the bullets that do the harm.”