The battle between gun rights activists and gun safety proponents is firing up again after a 45-year-old man opened fire on his former coworkers at Fiamma Inc. in Orlando Monday morning, leaving five dead and seven wounded.
The gunman entered the business early Monday morning and shot five of his coworkers to death before killing himself. The company is one of the nation's largest manufacturers of awnings for camper vans, motor coaches and sports utility vehicles.
Monday’s shooting marks the second time a gunman has opened fire on unsuspecting Floridians in Central Florida, leaving a trail of devastation as the Orlando community is only just beginning to heal the wounds remaining from the Pulse Nightclub shooting, which left 49 dead last summer.
For years, the two sides have engaged in a back-and-forth battle over how, exactly, to prevent ongoing gun crimes across Florida and the country.
Gun rights groups say the shooting could have been prevented if employees had been provided the means necessary to fight back.
“Once again we see a murderer taking advantage of a ‘soft target’ where employees are prohibited from possessing an effective means of self-defense,” Sean Caranna of Florida Carry told Sunshine State News Tuesday. “The murderer was a known threat, yet the business failed to provide security for its employees and would not allow them to carry for their own defense.”
The self-defense argument is one groups like Florida Carry have used in the Florida Legislature as they push for the expansion of gun rights, urging lawmakers to pass bills to allow gun owners to carry their firearms in airports, schools and in public.
Many of the laws proposed this legislative session to expand Second Amendment rights never saw the light of day due to political hardball from Senate leadership, which refused to hear many of the measures.
Gun safety advocates’, on the other hand, say curbing gun violence begins with restricting access to firearms, making it more difficult to purchase and use guns.
It wasn’t long before politicians pounced on what they saw as a lack of action from state and national lawmakers to lessen the frequency of shootings and violent crimes.
“More gun violence. More outrage,” tweeted U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla. “And more deafening silence from Congress.”
Even gubernatorial hopefuls said simply providing “well wishes” wasn’t going to cut it when the rubber hit the road for gun safety.
“We must do more to stop Florida’s epidemic of gun violence -- not simply send our thoughts and prayers in the wake of lost lives,” said Tallahassee mayor and Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Andrew Gillum.
Bloomberg-led Everytown chimed in early Monday saying the time was now for lawmakers to beef up gun safety measures to ensure shootings like the Forsyth shooting and Pulse didn’t become commonplace.
“We should all be able to go to work, dance in a nightclub or enjoy a night out at the movies without the threat of gun violence looming over our heads,” said Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense Florida chapter leader Michelle Gajda. “We must demand more of our lawmakers and work together to find common sense solutions that will protect all communities in our state and across the nation. We deserve better.”
Gajda and Everytown were some of the loudest voices in the fight against several gun measures moving their way through the Florida legislature this year,
Time and time again, Gajda and her band of “Everytown moms” showed up to rail against legislation to expand gun rights in the Sunshine State.
Pro-gun groups like the National Rifle Association have criticized organizations like Everytown for being props from the liberal left and Michael Bloomberg to push issues they say they don’t know anything about, as part of a “faux-informed” movement.
“Never in 40 years have I seen a group of women come in as a group who apparently didn’t know why they were there or what they were doing,” NRA lobbyist and past president Marion Hammer told Sunshine State News in March. “I’ve never seen it before and I hope I never see it again because that’s fake activism, as far as I’m concerned.”
The NRA has not yet publicly commented on Monday’s shooting.
For Caranna, the shooting serves as a dark reminder that Florida must do more to protect its citizens from the threat of violence.
“This tragedy should serve as a reminder to business owners that they have a duty to protect their employees or at least allow employees the tools necessary to protect themselves, especially when there have been prior acts of workplace violence,” he said.