Sunday, December 15, 2019

State of Florida's hands are tied on federal gun loophole that enabled Pensacola attack

Posted By on Sun, Dec 15, 2019 at 10:04 AM

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In Florida, which gun-control advocates have disparaged as the “Gunshine State,” officials this week grappled with another mass shooting, this time at a military installation in Pensacola.

State officials say a federal “loophole” allowed a Saudi national to obtain a Florida hunting license to legally purchase a handgun before killing three people at a Pensacola naval base.

Members of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission acknowledged Thursday the issue is more complicated than they thought.

“I still don’t think that we have a proposed path,” commission Chairman Robert Spottswood said Thursday afternoon during a meeting in Panama City.

On Wednesday, the commission directed staff members to quickly determine actions the state could take to address foreigners using state hunting licenses to buy handguns.

Galvano told the News Service the hunting-license issue will be part of a broader review the Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee had already started after incidents of mass violence.

But the Legislature might not be able to do much about the loophole, according to the Senate president.

“That’s a federal law,” he said. “We’ve already had discussions, and it may be just that all we can do in that regard is send a resolution to our federal counterparts.”

Mohammed Alshamrani, who was killed by an Escambia County Sheriff’s deputy, was able to get a state hunting license in July that he used a short time later to legally purchase a 9 mm Glock 45 pistol from a gun dealer in the Pensacola area.

Federal law generally prevents people in the United States on non-immigrant visas from having guns. But an exception allows them to have guns if they have valid hunting licenses.

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