ORLANDO, Fla. — The deadly shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh comes a little over a week before Election Day, putting the issue of gun control and gun rights front and center in the race for Florida’s U.S. Senate seat.
- Gun control, rights becomes prominent Senate race issue
- Conversation sparked after Pittsburgh synagogue shooting
- Sen. Nelson renewing call for assault weapons ban
It’s a topic that has commanded a lot of attention in the Sunshine State after two major mass shootings in the last few years.
After the Valentine’s Day shooting at a high school in Parkland, it was widely believed that gun safety would be among one of the top issues in this midterm election. The topic faded from the spotlight, but it’s re-emerging after the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh.
“I think we need to get these military weapons, assault weapons off the streets,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Florida) in a Spectrum News interview.
Senator Bill Nelson is renewing his call for an assault weapons ban -- the weapon used to kill 11 people on Saturday.
“I’m a hunter, I’ve had guns all my life, I grew up on a ranch. But, an AR-15, that’s not for hunting -- that’s for killing,” he said.
After the massacre at a high school in Parkland, the senator sponsored a number of bills to combat gun violence. However, in a Republican-controlled Congress, only legislation focused on school safety made it to the president's desk.
Gov. Rick Scott released an ad in recent weeks, featuring Parkland shooting victim Meadow Pollack’s father, who praised the governor for signing legislation that bans anyone under the age of 21 from purchasing a firearm.
Nelson says his opponent hasn’t done enough, especially with legislative reforms for school safety and mental health.
“His position is completely the opposite of my position. I think he’s failing the people of Florida who are sick and tired of the mass carnage that goes on,” Nelson said.
“It’s an issue that ebbed and flowed in the course of the campaign, but one that is very much there,” said Dave Levinthal, with the Center for Public Integrity.
So far, gun control advocates are outspending gun rights groups in the 2018 midterms.
“Because of the Parkland shooting, it has really just made that issue prominent in Florida, causing this very contested race to even be that much more contested," Levinthal said.
Gun control and gun rights groups are determined to keep this topic in the conversation as much as possible ahead of the election. Just last week, the NRA spent $929,000 on campaign advertising in the state.
Everytown for Gun Safety is also heavily investing in candidates in the Sunshine State.