A survey of federally licensed gun dealers and pawnshops in South Florida found wide agreement that the state should continue to allow the sales of weapons like the AR-15 — the weapon used in the shooting in Parkland Feb. 14 — but disagreement on whether arming teachers would make schools safer.
People in Broward and Miami-Dade counties were asked to respond to a number of statements on a scale of one to five, with one meaning they strongly disagreed while five meaning they strongly agreed. Specifically:
- Q1: The age for purchases of semiautomatic weapons and high-capacity magazines should be increased in Florida from 18 to 21.
- Q2: The proposed changes to Florida gun laws in the wake of the Stoneman Douglas shooting go too far.
- Q3: Encouraging teachers to be armed will make schools safer.
- Q4: The Florida legislature should fund additional mental health services.
- Q5: Florida should continue to allow the sale of weapons like the AR-15.
When broken down by county, the survey indicated that people in Broward were in favor of increasing the age to purchase firearms to 21, while those in Miami-Dade were less enthusiastic about the idea. Miami-Dade respondents were also more likely to feel the proposed changes to Florida gun laws went too far and were significantly more in favor of arming teachers.
When broken down by type of license — dealers or pawnbrokers — again both groups were in agreement that the state should fund additional mental health services. Pawnbrokers generally agreed with the proposal to increase the age requirements for firearms, while dealers were somewhat less in favor of the idea.
While pawnbrokers felt the legislative response to the Parkland shooting was appropriate, dealers generally did not feel this way. And finally, while dealers were in agreement that weapons like the AR-15 should continue to be sold, pawnbrokers seemed more open to the idea of banning their sale.
How we did it: On Feb. 26 and 27, journalism students at Florida International University called approximately 300 numbers listed as belonging to businesses and individuals in Miami-Dade and Broward counties licensed to sell firearms by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Of those called, 32 people responded to the survey. Though not scientific, the results provide a snapshot of a group whose views on gun rights and responsibilities are often thought to be monolithic. Follow-up stories are planned to give these views additional context. Median responses were reported, as opposed to averages, to keep outlier answers from overly affecting the results.
— Produced by students of Prof. Kate MacMillian, Prof. Neil Reisner and Prof. Dan Evans for SFNS
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