Gun control wasn’t on the Pasco County Commission’s agenda Tuesday, but that didn’t stop residents from stepping forward to voice their opinions about the prospect of new laws being passed on the local level.
Several residents came out to express their concerns that the commission will delve into an issue that is already being discussed at the state and national level. Commissioners are considering a local law that would close the “gun show loophole,” which allows people to buy weapons without a background check or waiting period at gun shows.
“Guns, if they’re made illegal, instead of licensed gun dealers, you’ll have criminals,” warned Jose Lugo of Spring Hill. Lugo, along with several other residents, said the main issue that needs to be addressed is mental health.
“I’m here to oppose any new gun legislation,” said one meeting attendee. “Criminals are criminals because they don’t follow the law. Please stop interfering with our Second Amendment rights.”
Minerva Diaz of Trinity had a different take.
“We’re living in the 21st century where it has become necessary to articulate new laws,” she said, adding that mental health issues also need to be addressed to prevent shootings like that in Newtown, Conn., from occurring again.
Diaz said she would like to see substantial background checks enacted on all who “want to possess arms.”
Commissioners were mostly quiet on the issue, saying they want to hear more from the public and do their own research before moving forward with a local ordinance. If the commission does pursue local legislation, it would have to instruct the County Attorney's Office to draft an ordinance and then hold public hearings before voting for its passage or denial.
A public meeting on gun control issues is scheduled to take place during the March 19 commission meeting, which starts at 9 a.m. at the West Pasco Government Center, 8731 Citizens Drive in New Port Richey.
What do you think, New Port Richey? Should Pasco County close the gun show loophole? Or do you think current laws are sufficient? Share your thoughts in the comments section.