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Stronger firearm background checks may be on the table for 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A state senator is looking to build support for legislation that would enhance Florida's firearm background check process. 

It will be no easy feat, but the senator believes the idea is gaining traction.

This year, Senate President Bill Galvano ordered Senate Infrastructure and Security Chairman Tom Lee to explore mass violence and white nationalism following last month’s shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.

Kate Kyle, with Moms Demand Action, delivered 807 letters from Florida voters to Lee. She said the No. 1 ask is for universal background checks.

"It is a policy solution we have in our toolbox that we haven't tried here in Florida and I think it's the most effective. I don't think it tramples anyone's rights,” Kyle said.

Lee, a Thonotosassa Republican and former Senate president, seems to be listening.

“This seems like the most common sense thing to do is to see if there's some holes in the background check system that could be tightened up,” Lee said. "I understand that there were about 9,000 people last year that applied for a background check ... that were denied and ostensibly because they had a prior felony. Why aren't those people being prosecuted?”

He said public response has been positive.

“Former police chiefs and law enforcement people from my area of the state, which is a pretty conservative area, saying, 'Look, you know, this is not unreasonable,'” Lee said.

The National Rifle Association, a powerful force in the Florida Legislature, has long held the position that enforcing current laws would be more effective than passing new ones.

Exactly what Lee might propose is unclear at this time.

“We're just kind of peeling back the layers of the onion and trying to figure out how do we make the place a little safer for Floridians,” Lee said.

He said whatever the final product, bipartisan support will be critical.

At least eight unique bills aimed at increasing gun control have been filed for the 2020 session. 

Last year, no gun control measures were passed.