Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) held its final public hearing Tuesday afternoon in St. Petersburg listening to the views of hundreds of Floridians on issues ranging from offshore oil drilling to the banning of greyhound racing. They also heard from Parkland parents who had children at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when a 19-year-old gunman opened fire killing 17 students and teachers.
Among those appearing before commission members was Tony Montalto, whose 14-year-old daughter, Gina, was killed in the Parkland shootings nearly four weeks ago.
Montalto spoke out in favor of a proposal that would put into the constitution the gun control limits passed by the Legislature and signed into law last week by Gov. Rick Scott. Those restrictions include raising the minimum age for the purchase of a firearm to 21, imposing a three-day waiting period on gun purchases and banning the sale of bump stocks.
“As CRC members you can help defeat the NRA’s legal challenges to this historic legislation by placing the provisions included in this proposal on the ballot in November,” said Montalto. “Should the voters chose to give their approval to these safety measures they would then be included in the Florida Constitution where these hard-fought for provisions would be more secure.”
The commission is made up of 37 members appointed by the Governor, Attorney General, the Supreme Court Chief Justice, Senate President and House Speaker. It meets once every 20 years to consider amendments to the Florida Constitution and decides which of those amendments to put before voters in November.
“I cannot help but think how different life would be today for our family had the changes in this amendment would have been enacted before now,” Montalto told CRC members.
The public hearing was an opportunity for the public to speak to the CRC. But, Commissioner Frank Kruppenbacher, who was appointed by the governor, took a moment to speak to the parents.
“To the Parkland people that have come here I want you to know, even though we’re not commenting, in my heart I know the majority of this commission stands with you and we will do what’s right,” Kruppenbacher said.
The proposal, which was filed Friday by Miami attorney Roberto Martinez, is one of two gun control amendments that were filed in recent days. The other, filed by former Democratic state Sen. Chris Smith, would place a ban the sale of assault-style weapons, as well as high-capacity magazines, in the Florida Constitution.
“The solution is to introduce proper gun reform,” said a student from St. Petersburg High School. “Ban these weapons of war. These guns that are made for one purpose and one purpose alone–to kill a large number of students in the short amount of time.”
In order for the amendments to be placed on the November ballot for voters to decide, 22 of the 37 members of the commission would have to sign-off on the proposals. If they do, the amendments would need approval of 60 percent of the voters in order to pass.