The prevalence of gun violence in the U.S., especially at its schools, has turned even some moderate legislators into staunch supporters of stricter gun control laws.
Democrat Darren Soto, a representative from Florida’s 9th district, was one of them.
“As a lawyer who got into the state legislature, I was always a strong advocate of our Constitutional rights,” the congressman told Cheddar on Thursday, the day after a gunman killed 17 students and teachers at a Parkland, Fla., high school.
“But when Sandy Hook happened, I really got the full sense of the horror and the tragedy of these mass shootings. That was when I was in the Florida House. And from then, I really took a turn to fight for many different gun reforms.”
Soto’s comments come as Nikolas Cruz was charged with 17 counts of murder for the Parkland shooting. The nineteen-year-old was reportedly part of a white supremacist group and had previously posted videos and social media messages showing him with a variety of guns and claiming he wanted to be a “professional school shooter.”
President Trump addressed the shooting Thursday morning, calling for steps to address mental illness, but did not mention anything about gun control.
That may not have come as a surprise to Soto, who spoke with Cheddar before the President made his statement. He said Republicans have blocked hearings on a number of measures sponsored by Democrats, from closing the gun show loophole to preventing those on the no-fly list from buying weapons to a ban on so-called bump stocks.
And one of those bills might have prevented Wednesday's events.
"How did this young man get guns as a troubled youth?" he asked. "I suspect it could have been this gun show loophole. It could have been a personal exchange. Therefore there is no background check and no ability to police folks who normally wouldn't get firearms getting them through this glaring loophole."
For full interview click here.