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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Mar. 15, 201809:28 AM EST

The Cawton Report: Rummell says Legislature came up short on gun laws

The District developer says he wants ban on assault rifles.
by: David Cawton Associate Editor

Jacksonville real estate developer Peter Rummell says the Florida Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott didn’t go far enough with gun reform legislation signed into law during the last week of the state’s legislative session. 

On March 9, Scott signed Senate Bill 7026, also known as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act. 

The bill is a compilation of gun-related policies the Republican-led state government agreed upon after a Feb. 14 shooting at the Parkland-area high school left 17 students and faculty members dead and several injured. 

Rummell, who is one the state’s larger Republican financial donors, said the law is “a good start,” but that he was unsatisfied because of what the final version left out. 

“I give Rick high marks for doing what he did,” Rummell said Tuesday. “But I think anything that stops short of (banning) assault rifles isn’t enough.” 

He said while he is not a gun owner himself, he has lots of friends who are. 

“I’m completely sympathetic to that, but for the life of me I don’t understand the need for assault rifles,” he said. 

Rummell has spent millions supporting Scott, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, and other local and state candidates throughout the years. 

He told The New York Times on Feb. 18 he would join Al Hoffman Jr., another influential Florida Republican donor, in withholding financial backing for candidates or current office holders seeking re-election who don’t support a full ban on assault weapons. 

He told the Times, “it has to start somewhere.” 

The suspect in the Parkland shooting, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, used an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle during the attack. In the weeks following the shooting, a wave of student-driven activism to lobby lawmakers to pass new restrictions on guns engulfed the state capital, prompting lawmakers to address the issue.  

The bill bans the sale of rifles, or “long guns,” to anyone under the age of 21; funds a $67 million program to train and arm certain school personnel to carry guns on campus; and bans the sale or possession of bump fire stocks, among other provisions. 

Rummell said the reforms aren’t enough. 

“I don’t understand why, unless you’re trying to kill the enemy, you need a hundred bullets,” Rummell said.  “Other than that, I think it’s a great beginning.”

After The New York Times article was published, Rummell clarified his position, saying the state needed to at least have an honest and thoughtful debate about the subject, “and how we live practically under the Second Amendment, which I fully support.” 

Curry, who Rummell will continue to support, said in late February that he doesn’t expect his political backers to have “100 percent alignment and agreement on issues,” although he declined to say if he supports the ban. 

“The regulation of firearms is done at the state and federal level,” he said.

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