State Rep. Shevrin Jones filed legislation Thursday (HB 201) that would create a new commission to study gun violence in urban communities.
The “Urban Core Gun Violence Task Force” would be made up of 10 members. Two members each would be appointed by the Governor, majority leaders in both Legislative chambers, and minority leaders in both Legislative chambers.
“The task force shall investigate system failures and the causes of high crime and gun violence incidents in urban core communities and neighborhoods,” the West Park Democrat’s bill says.
“In addition, the task force shall develop recommendations for solutions, programs, services, and strategies for improved interagency communications between local and state government agencies that will help facilitate the reduction of crime and gun violence in urban core neighborhoods and communities.”
The task force would also have investigatory powers. “The task force may delegate to its investigators the authority to administer oaths and affirmations,” the measure reads.
Still, the legislation is likely to get little momentum in a Republican-controlled, Second Amendment-friendly Legislature. Jones pushed the idea back in February, pitching Gov. Ron DeSantis to set up a panel to study the gun violence issue.
He has compared the hypothetical body to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission. That commission was created as part of legislation put forward in the wake of the 2018 shooting in Parkland.
It aimed analyze the causes of that attack and outline ways to improve safety at Florida’s schools going forward. Jones says the problem of urban gun violence needs something similar.
“It’s important,” Jones said. “We are seeing killings every day and there is no commission or conversation.”
His bill would take effect on July 1, 2020 if successful. The task force would convene no later than Sept. 1, 2020.
According to the NAACP, more than 80 percent of gun deaths among the black community are a result of homicides. That’s the inverse of the numbers for the general population, which show nearly two-thirds of gun deaths are the result of suicides.
Sybrina Fulton, whose son Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman back in 2012, has also backed Jones’ proposal in the past. Fulton is now running for the District 1 seat on the Miami-Dade County Commission.
“Gun violence doesn’t just happen in our classrooms, it happens at malls, our movies, and especially in our black and brown communities,” Fulton said. “If we want to achieve comprehensive gun safety legislation that means including the voices of our families and neighbors who can’t escape this epidemic.”
Jones represents House District 101. He’s running for Senate District 35 in 2020; he is term-limited in the House next year.