A group of parents and activists opposed to a broad array of gun laws moving their way through the Florida Legislature say they’re part of the majority of Floridians who oppose open carry in Florida, and they’ve got a poll to prove it -- but pro-gun groups vehemently disagree.
On Tuesday, gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety and the Florida Chapter of Moms Demand Action on Gun Sense released a poll showing the majority of Floridians opposed to nearly every controversial gun bill making its way through the legislature this year.
According to the poll, which was conducted by political analyst, Mike Bloomberg adviser and Clinton pollster Douglas Schoen, more than half of Floridians are against a variety of provisions under SB 140, which would legalize open carry in the Sunshine State.
The poll found 76 percent of respondents oppose allowing guns on college campuses while 69 percent oppose allowing guns on elementary and secondary school campuses. Seventy-five percent of Floridians oppose allowing guns in airport terminals.
Moms Demand Action said the survey was evidence most Floridians weren’t onboard with gun bills currently making their way through the Legislature.
“This poll serves as further evidence that Floridians find the idea of carrying handguns, either openly or concealed, in sensitive areas like our children’s grade school classrooms entirely inappropriate,” said Michelle Gajda, a volunteer with the Florida chapter of Moms Demand Action. “It is time for our lawmakers to listen to our concerns and ensure that our schools remain educational safe havens.”
The survey polled 600 Floridians and the margin of error of the poll was +/- 4 percent.
Previous poll numbers showed more than half of Floridians opposed campus carry, but not at as high of a level as Everytown’s poll indicated.
A 2015 survey found 56 percent of Floridians were against allowing college students 21 and older to carry concealed weapons on all of Florida’s 12 public university campuses.
Thirty-two percent said they supported the legislation, while 12 percent said they didn't know what the correct position was or they weren’t sure.
Sunshine State News contacted Moms Demand Action for more information, but had not received a response at the time of this article’s release.
Groups supporting open carry legislation disagreed with Everytown and with Moms Demand Action, saying the legislation is widely popular with gun owners in Florida, who comprise around 1.7 million of the state’s population.
“The overwhelming majority of Florida citizens support the constitutional right of self-defense,” said National Rifle Association past president and current lobbyist Marion Hammer. “That's what these issues are about. Legislators know that.”
Hammer told Sunshine State News the NRA doesn’t just represent the typical gun-toting type -- gun owners, she explained, have all sorts of backgrounds but are united in their support of the Second Amendment.
“The NRA represents a wide range of gun owners from all walks of life -- all professions, religions, nationalities, both men and women who trust NRA to stand up for them and their constitutional rights,” she said.
Hammer wasn’t alone in her criticisms. Other groups in Florida, like Florida Carry, rejected the idea that heavyweight gun groups like the NRA were the only ones who wanted gun legislation passed.
“Florida Carry is truly grassroots organization that was founded in 2011 by everyday Floridians,” said Florida Carry president Sean Caranna. “Unlike these non-Florida based gun control groups, we have no paid staff, no out of state billionaire board members, no grants from the likes of the Joyce Foundation...our members donate their time and money to allow us to speak with one voice in the legislature, the courts, and to our fellow Floridians about their individual right to keep and bear arms for the necessary defense of themselves and their loved ones.”
Caranna told Sunshine State News the group’s assertion that the gun lobby has “run roughshod” over Florida because they haven’t been countered by the grassroots was totally false.
“Bloomberg's huge interlinked, social foundation funded, gun control organizations calling Florida Carry anything but a true Florida Grassroots movement while attempting to assume the mantle of a grassroots organization themselves takes hypocrisy to new heights,” said Caranna.
“They are overlooking 1.7 million law-abiding firearms owners who are licensed by the state to carry firearms for lawful self-defense and defense of their families,” she said.