SARASOTA, FL (WFLA) — On Monday, Sarasota City Commissioners voted on a resolution that encourages the federal government to ban assault rifles to the public. Instead, city officials feel the weapons should be limited to law enforcement.
The resolution failed to pass. It was voted down 1-4, only Commissioner Suzanne Atwell voted for it.
Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin said this resolution was written in the wake of the Pulse Nightclub shooting. Barwin said there has been an increasing number of mass shootings lately and this most recent tragedy hit close to home. Sarasota native, Eddie Sotomayor, Jr., was one of the victims.
“We have a slogan in this country, when you see something, say something. And we’re seeing a pattern, we’re seeing too many incidents of mass violence with military-grade assault weapons that really have no place in safe cities,” said Barwin.
“I think the sentiment has been these lives should not have been lost in vain,” said Barwin. “At some point we’ve got to get back to rationality on this.”
Barwin feels these weapons are military-grade and are very easy to get. “Even our police officers don’t have much of a fighting chance when they’re thrust into that situation,” he said.
The city manager said the city does not have the authority to ban these weapons, so this resolution would encourage Congress to do it. Barwin hopes other cities will follow suit and pass similar resolutions.
“This discussion is not about the second amendment, or rights to own guns or not,” Barwin said. “Let’s stop the bleeding, that’s what this is all about. And making for a safer country years coming down the road.”
But, the resolution has its critics- like gun shop owner Francis Misantone. He owns The Bullet Hole, and said he’s recently had a spike in customers coming into his store.
“[We’ve had an] incredible number of people have been coming in, people that have never had one, people that have had one when they were in the military and wanted to replace one, just to have memorabilia or a keepsake, all kinds of people,” Misantone said.
He completely disagrees with this resolution. He does not think that gun owners should be punished for the actions of a few.
“The attackers were the assaulters, not the gun. This gun could sit there and say attack! And it won’t do a thing. It has no mind of its own,” he said.
MIsantone said he does thorough background checks and even turns away customers who seem suspicious. He said he feels the government should do a better job of banning suspicious people from buying guns.
Misantone said, “When you’re on the watch list, and people are watching you in law enforcement, you lose your rights I don’t care what they say about second amendment rights and all that. If you’re the bad guy, as far as I’m concerned, your rights are taken away.”
He said he feels it’s wrong to label these high-powered rifles as ‘assault weapons,’ adding he thinks responsible gun owners should be allowed to purchase them.
“Why do people buy Lamborghinis? Why do they buy corvettes? They all go too fast for the highway, you can’t use them out there but you like it.” Misantone explained. “It’s your choice, you have the right to make your own choice.”
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