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Florida ‘will not comply,’ with US surgeon general’s gun violence advisory, DeSantis says

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis delivers remarks in Umatilla, Florida, on June 25, 2024, during a visit to tout the state's infrastructure grants program. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/TNS)

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday said Florida “will not comply” with U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy’s declaration that firearm violence is a public health crisis.

Murthy, the nation’s top doctor, issued the advisory Tuesday as the U.S. grapples with growing numbers of deaths and injuries involving firearms. He called for a comprehensive approach similar to responses to tobacco and motor vehicle deaths.

In a video announcing the advisory, Murthy said that 54% of U.S. adults report that they or a family member have experienced a gun-related incident. He noted that firearm violence is the leading cause of death for American children and adolescents.

A day before Murthy’s advisory, residents of New Tampa crowded into a community center to raise concerns about a recent streak of shootings in the area, including one Friday on New Tampa Boulevard that left two dead.

Murthy called for universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons, more federal funding for gun violence prevention research and tighter regulations on the gun industry, among other suggestions.

The surgeon general cannot enforce those recommendations. A nationwide implementation of the suggestions would require legislation from Congress.

While some state legislatures may consider Murthy’s proposals, DeSantis on Wednesday said Florida “will not comply.”

In a post on X, the governor said Murthy “is attempting to violate the Second Amendment through the ‘public health’ bureaucracy.”

He referenced the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and said “unelected bureaucrats used ‘public health’ as a pretext to deprive citizens of their rights.”

“I believe the governor’s post speaks for itself,” Jeremy Redfern, press secretary for the governor’s office, said when asked to expand on DeSantis’ position.

The National Rifle Association rejected the advisory, too.

“This is an extension of the Biden administration’s war on law-abiding gun owners,” Randy Kozuch, executive director of the association, said in a statement on X.

“America has a crime problem caused by criminals,” he said. “The reluctance to prosecute and punish criminals on the part of President (Joe) Biden and many of his allies is the primary cause of that.”

Murthy said the impacts of firearm violence extend beyond people with direct experiences. There are “wider ripples of harm” for people who witness the violence, live in communities frequently affected by it or read about it in the news, he said.

“Firearm violence is a public health crisis,” Murthy said. “Our failure to address it is a moral crisis.”


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