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					                         CHAPTER 1

              STUDYING FLORIDA FIREARM POLICY


                         Background

     On June 5, 1989 in Mirimar, Florida, 10-year-old Sean

Smith shot and killed his 8-year-old sister Erin (Schmalz,
1989). It was an accident. Sean didn’t think the gun he

found in his father's dresser was loaded. Sean pleaded to

his sister while on the telephone with the police, "Please

don't die. Please, God. Don't be dead." Erin was dead when

paramedics arrived.

     The next day in Orlando, Florida, 13-year-old Barry

McDonald found a gun in his father's briefcase and

accidentally shot and killed his 10-year-old playmate, Scott

Feltner (Griffin and Oliver, 1989). The day after that, also

in Orlando, six-year-old David Hagan shot and critically

wounded his four-year-old sister, Evie Sue, when, according

to news reports, he dropped a gun on the kitchen floor and

it went off (Schmalz, 1989; Griffin and Oliver, 1989).

     Three days later a nine-year-old Tampa boy shot his 13-

year-old brother in the back. The next day in Tampa, a four-

year-old boy accidentally shot himself in the chest. Both

survived (Green et al, 1989).


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     Within one week, five Florida children had been shot

with loaded guns they or their playmates had found and began

playing with. Two had died. Within days of the shootings,

Florida Representative Harry Jennings, a Republican from

Sarasota, introduced a bill creating criminal penalties for

adults who keep loaded guns unlocked where children have

access to them (Green et al, 1989). The same bill had been

introduced in the regular legislative session that had ended

one month earlier; then it had passed in the House of

Representatives, but died on the Senate calendar. It had

also been introduced in 1988, but was never taken up in

committee. Governor Bob Martinez called a special

legislative session in late June 1989 to take up the refiled

measure and signed it into law on July 12 (Florida House of

Representatives, 1989).

    Legislators who favored the law pleaded with their

colleagues during floor debates to pay attention to the
recent tragedies and pass the bill to educate the public.

Citing the recent child gun accidents, one legislator

warned, “The carnage doesn’t end until we do something,”

(Forman, Senate Floor Debate, 1989). While several

legislators argued it was illogical to pass the reactive

measure, it passed by a two-thirds margin in both chambers.

     This law, the first of its kind in the nation and now
known as Child Access Prevention (CAP) legislation, was
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considered the second of two victories by the gun control

lobby in a state long ruled by the other side in the gun

debate (Horn, 1993; Dunbar, 1993). The first victory came in

the legislative session that ended one month earlier, when

legislators agreed to put on the ballot a constitutional

amendment for a mandatory three-day waiting period for

handgun purchases.1 Before the 1989 legislative action,

waiting periods had been introduced in twenty prior

legislative sessions since 1955 and were either never heard

or defeated in committee.

    For the CAP measure, the child gun accidents and their

extensive news coverage acted as triggers for its passage.

For the waiting period legislation, however, the triggering

mechanisms are not as clear. Were there other, less obvious

factors that influenced its passage? Were other forces

working over time that resulted in the bill’s success? What

forces shaped earlier firearm policies in the state? Was
there a shift in the composition or strength of these

forces? This research will explore these questions.

                 Overview of this Research

    The purpose of this research is to trace the development

of state-level firearm legislation in one state, Florida,


1 In November 1990, the waiting period measure passed by 84
percent of a voter referendum and was implemented by the
legislature in 1991.
                                                              4




and explain how policies of opposite and conflicting

ideology were implemented over time when there were few

changes in the political arena. The term "firearm policy"

does not imply one effort or multiple efforts from one

ideological perspective, but instead embodies ideologically

conflicting laws adopted over the years. Using historical

and case study methods, this effort describes the

development of several significant legislative initiatives

over time and examines how and why these initiatives entered

and exited the policy arena.

    This research is a detailed case study of agenda setting

in the Florida legislature that uses concepts from

Baumgartner and Jones’ Theory of Punctuated Equilibrium and

Kingdon’s Policy Streams. It begins (Chapter 4) by

describing historical trends of firearm legislation for 44

years, from 1949 to 1992. This discussion focuses on the

agenda status (popularity) and agenda outcome (success or
failure) of gun policy ideas over time, to reveal the

“temporal variation in policy visibility, mobilization, and

support” of various gun policy themes (Baumgartner and

Jones, 1993: 41). It then examines agenda setting, “the

process by which issues gain greater mass and elite

attention” (Birkland, 1997: 5) and become adopted as public

policies or stymied from the agenda (Chapter 4 and 5).
Because it is a case study, this research does not test
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hypotheses, but instead examines research questions based on

theoretical constructs and illustrates these with Florida

examples. It then discusses whether theoretical propositions

seem consistent with the Florida case and refines theory and

repositions propositions in light of findings (Chapter 6).

             Uniqueness of this research effort

    Volumes have been written on gun violence, gun culture,
gun rights, and gun control. In Criminal Justice Abstracts,

a comprehensive abstracting service of scholarly books and

journal articles, one can find over 30 books on “gun

control”2 and over 50 unique titles in Books in Print.3 Less

than 10 examine the evolution of gun policy and attempt to

explain how and why gun laws accessed or succeeded on the

public policy agenda. Only two involve a comprehensive

examination of agenda setting, but both discuss federal gun

control (Vizzard, 2000; Spitzer, 1995, 1998).   Since nearly

all gun policy is made at the state level (Kleck, 1997), a

state-level study in this area is needed.

    This study is also unique in its use of terms. It does

not use the terms “gun control” and “firearm policy”


2 The search of titles, abstracts, and key words was
conducted on October 18, 2001. The total number hits was
365, including journal articles and government documents.
Books were counted from this list.
3 The search, conducted on October 18, 2001, looked for
books with “Gun Control” in their title. The total number of
hits was 126, including videos and subsequent book editions.
                                                                            6




interchangeably, but instead uses the term gun control to

only identify initiatives that are socio-regulatory in

nature. Firearm policy is used to refer to all gun policies,

regardless of ideological backing, or the body of

legislative initiatives over the years. This study uses an

additional term, anti control or gun rights legislation, to

refer to legislative initiatives that expand or protect

legal firearms ownership or use. These are two distinct

perspectives and while there is common ground in problem

definition from these two perspectives (Column 1), proposed

solutions vary widely (see Table 1.1).4

            Table 1.1 – Gun Policy Ideology Distinctions

Problem        Pro Gun-Control      Anti Gun-Control    Compromise
Definition     Solution             Solution            Solution/Policy*
Firearm        1) Restrictive       Expanding           1) Enhanced
crime          access, carrying,    concealed carry     Penalties for
               and use to some/     rights (citizens    Firearm Crimes
               all citizens (guns   arm themselves to   (FSE laws)
               and/or ammo)         deter crime)        2) Criminal
               2) Owner permits,                        history instant
               registration, and/                       background checks
               or licensing
Firearm        1) Restrictive       (No legislative     (Narrowly crafted)
Accidents      access, carrying,    solution)           Child access
               and use to some/                         prevention (CAP)


4 This table was developed for this current research from
analysis of literature and websites of the two main advocacy
groups in the gun issue, the National Rifle Association and
Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence (formerly Handgun
Control, Inc.). Positions were validated by Paul Blackman,
Ph.D., Research Director for the NRA, in a personal
correspondence dated October 17, 2001, and Gary Kleck, “the
most important and prolific social scientific researcher in
the area” on guns (Kates, 2001: 45), in a personal
correspondence dated October 16, 2001.
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               all citizens                              laws
               2) Owner permits,
               registration and/
               or licensing
               3)Personalized
               ”smart” guns
Firearm        1) Waiting Periods   (No legislative      Instant Background
Suicides       2) Personalized      solution)            checks for mental
               “smart” guns                              illness (without
               3) Access-                                violating privacy)
               prevention laws
Prevalence     1) Gun Bans          NOT SEEN AS A        NONE legislative
of Guns in     2) Gun surrender     PROBLEM. Seen as a
Society        programs             right and benefit.
Firearm        NOT SEEN AS A        1) Preemption laws   NONE legislative
owners         PROBLEM. Little or   2) Expanding
“rights”       no recognition of    Concealed Carry
being curbed   gun owning rights    rights
               in the first         3) Declare gun
               place.               rights by law
Mass           1) Restrictive       1) Expanding         Limit access to
Shootings,     access, carrying,    concealed carry      firearms by
Guns in        and use to some/     rights (citizens     minors.
Schools        all citizens         arm themselves to
               2) Owner permits     deter crime)
               or licensing         2) Teachers carry
               3)Personalized       guns in school
               ”smart” guns
All Firearm    Non-legislative:     Non-legislative:     Non-legislative:
Violence,      1) Discouraging      1) Firearm owner     1) Enforcement of
generally      guns at home         education            criminal penalties
               2) Suing gun         2) Encourage         & prison space
               manufacturers        citizens to arm to    2) Police
                                    deter crime          crackdowns
*Compromise varies by place and time.

    Column 2 lists legislative solutions aimed at regulating

gun related activity, such as the manufacture, importation,

sale or transfer, and possession of guns (Kleck, 1991).

These “gun control” initiatives fall into Lowi’s (1972)

social-regulatory category because they involve curbs on

individual conduct or behavior (Spitzer, 1998). Column 3

lists solutions to these problems that de-regulate the
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manufacture, importation, sale or transfer, and possession

of guns. Examples include providing permits to citizens to

carry concealed weapons or limiting the authority of county

or city officials to regulate guns (preemption statutes).

These “gun rights” provisions are “entitlement policies”

using Lowi’s conception (Lowi, 1964) and cannot be

characterized as gun control. There are also policy

solutions aimed at preventing or deterrng behavior, both

criminal and accidental, that may be embraced by members

from both perspectives.5 These consensus policies are

usually forged by one constituency, but are embraced by both

in an attempt to provide regulate or control gun problems.

    The first two ideologically distinct positions, gun

control and gun rights, have different constituencies and

processes of development (Baumgartner and Jones, 1993) and

may access agendas via different mechanisms, but they are

not distinguished in agenda setting studies on guns. For
example, Vizzard (1993, 2000) and Spitzer (1995, 1998), two

book-length studies of agenda setting, proceed from

differing ideological viewpoints,6 but both ask similar

questions. Have gun control policies fully accessed the

5 Non-legislative definitions and solutions in bottom shaded
row are not studied in this research.
6 Vizzard approaches his subject as a firearm owner and
former agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and
Firearms. Spitzer approaches the subject as an advocate of
gun control. See in Kleck (1997b) for examples of Spitzer’s
advocacy.
                                                              9




federal legislative agenda, how did gun control get through

the agenda, and how can we get more gun control in the

future? When gun rights initiatives have been studied, they

are referred to as “the weakening of gun controls” (see for

example, Spitzer, 1995, 1998) and are not treated as valid

initiatives in their own right (CHECK Vizzard sure).

    Studying both socio-regulatory gun control and gun

rights entitlement policies will make this study comparative

(Baumgartner and Jones, 1993). This approach, coupled with

longitudinal historical analysis of agenda status and agenda

outcome, is relatively unique technique for studies of issue

dynamics (Baumgartner and Jones, 1993). Most studies are

either longitudinal case studies of single issues or cross-

sectional studies of several issues at one point in time.

The combined type analysis, developed and piloted by

Baumgartner and Jones (993), helps elucidate mechanisms that

explain both incremental and high-profile law making.

                 Why Firearms? Why Florida?

    Firearm legislation was chosen as the topic for this

study because of the hotly contested nature of the debate.

While ideological positions are distinct, opposing platforms

are crowded with ambiguous symbols, myths, and cultural

paradigms of firearms and their place in American society

(Bruce-Biggs, 1976; Vizzard, 2000; Spitzer, 1998). Firearm
control and regulation is an issue without consensus and
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shows little sign of resolution (Vizzard, 2000). Callaghan

and Schnell (2001) put it this way:

    It is one of the most salient and long-standing debates
    in U.S. politics, relevant not only at the national level
    but for virtually all state electorates. Furthermore, the
    issue of gun control is clearly understood by the
    “average” citizen; it requires no particular expertise to
    form an opinion; it is an issue that is closely followed
    by the mass public; and, like many policy issues in the
    political arena, it generates a political conflict that
    is intense and highly emotional, fueled by tradition,
    fears, and widely divergent concepts of personal liberty
    and the limits of government responsibility.

    Florida provides an arena for interesting case study

because it has been active in the introduction and passage

of gun legislation, both increasing and decreasing state

firearm controls, and has been a leader among the states in

many of these initiatives. For example, it was the first to

pass the modern-day “shall-issue”7 statewide concealed

weapons permits (CCW) statute in 1987 (Lott, 2000). At the

same time, it passed a law decriminalizing the open-carrying

of guns, leading to the state’s branding as the “GUNshine

State.” It was the first state to pass the Child Access

Prevention (CAP) legislation in 1989 (Cummings et.al.,

1997), which has been copied in at least 17 more states


7 “Shall-issue” permit statutes mandate that permits for
concealed weapons carrying shall be issued to all applicants
who meet minimum standards, such as paying a fee and taking
a gun-safety course. These contrast with “may-issue”
permitting systems where issuing bodies can exercise
discretion in whom they grant permits to.
                                                             11




(Open Society Institute, 2000). It was the first and only

state to have a constitutionally mandated waiting period for

handgun purchases (Blackman, 2001b). It was the first state

to pass a Firearm Sentence Enhancement (FSE) statute aimed

specifically at criminal use of firearms in serious crimes

(DeZee, 1982).8 And it was the second state to pass and

third to fully implement an instant records check law for

purchase of a firearm (Blackman, 2001b), which was later

used as a model for federal Brady bill legislation. CHECK

    More recently, Florida’s lead gun lobbyist, Marion

Hammer, served as President of the National Rifle

Association in YEAR, a position few gun lobbyists ever rise

to. Last, while the NRA has had a reported lock-hold on the

Florida state throughout history (see Chapter 4 and 5),

strict gun control measures have still succeeded in the

state. This presents an interesting dynamic for comparative

study, because it shows that multiple and opposing forces
can compete for and win on the policy agenda.9 So while a



8 Previous state measures, such as the Bartley-Fox law in
Massachusetts, addressed unlawful carrying.
9 In addition, this research grew out of a unique
opportunity for the researcher to observe the public policy
arena of the Florida legislature during the 1989 to 1990
legislative sessions. Specifically, many observations,
materials, and files were gathered as a result an internship
for the Criminal Justice Committee of the Florida House of
Representatives. This experience will assist the researcher
in analyzing legislative initiatives during this time frame
and in documenting the policy making process in the context
                                                             12




state can successfully pass legislation in 1987 that

preempts all local governments from regulating firearms and

allows ordinary citizens to carry concealed weapons with a

permit, two years later it can penalize gun owners for not

locking up their guns and impose a 3 day waiting period for

gun purchases.

                          Summary

    In sum, this research traces the development of firearm

policy in the state of Florida, examining the forces that

helped shape both the pro- and anti-control firearm

initiatives. Chapter 2 reviews the relevant research and

develops this study’s theoretical constructs. Chapter 3

reviews the methods employed. Chapter 4 provides an overview

of Florida firearm policy and the high-profile firearms

legislation during this era, while Chapters 5 discusses a

few firearm measures and their policy streams in depth.

Chapter 6 concludes with explanation, theory revision, and
conclusions.




of actual situations (see Chapter 3 for methods of
analysis).
                                                                                                                                                               13




CHAPTER 1             STUDYING FLORIDA FIREARM POLICY.......................................................1

 BACKGROUND ..................................................................................................................................1

                 For the CAP measure, the child gun accidents and their extensive news coverage acted as
        triggers for its passage. For the waiting period legislation, however, the triggering mechanisms are not
        as clear. Were there other, less obvious factors that influenced its passage? .......................................... 3

                    This research will explore these questions ................................................................................. 3

 OVERVIEW OF THIS RESEARCH .........................................................................................................3

                The purpose of this research is to trace the development of state-level firearm legislation in
        one state, Florida, and explain how policies of opposite and conflicting ideology were implemented
        over time when there were few changes in the political arena. ............................................................... 4

               This research is a detailed case study of agenda setting in the Florida legislature that uses
        concepts from Baumgartner and Jones’ Theory of Punctuated Equilibrium and Kingdon’s Policy
        Streams ................................................................................................................................................... 4

 UNIQUENESS OF THIS RESEARCH EFFORT..........................................................................................5

                 Since nearly all gun policy is made at the state level (Kleck, 1997), a state-level study in this
        area is needed. ........................................................................................................................................ 5

                This study is also unique in its use of terms. It does not use the terms “gun control” and
        “firearm policy” interchangeably ........................................................................................................ 6\\\\

                The first two ideologically distinct positions, gun control and gun rights, have different
        constituencies and processes of development ......................................................................................... 8

                Studying both socio-regulatory gun control and gun rights entitlement policies will make this
        study comparative (Baumgartner and Jones, 1993). This approach, coupled with longitudinal historical
        analysis of agenda status and agenda outcome, is relatively unique technique for studies of issue
        dynamics (Baumgartner and Jones, 1993). ............................................................................................. 9

 WHY FIREARMS? WHY FLORIDA?....................................................................................................9

                Firearm legislation was chosen as the topic for this study because of the hotly contested nature
        of the debate ........................................................................................................................................... 9

                Florida provides an arena for interesting case study because it has been active in the
        introduction and passage of gun legislation, both increasing and decreasing state firearm controls, and
        has been a leader among the states in many of these initiatives ............................................................ 10

               This presents an interesting dynamic for comparative study, because it shows that multiple and
        opposing forces can compete for and win on the policy agenda. .......................................................... 11

 SUMMARY......................................................................................................................................12

               In sum, this research traces the development of firearm policy in the state of Florida,
        examining the forces that helped shape both the pro- and anti-control firearm initiatives ................... 12

				
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