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Rep. Antone files legislation to establish task force on crime and urban gun violence

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Norine Dworkin

Editor in Chief

Friday, December 1, 2023


Kat Wilcox

Gun violence is the leading cause of death for Black children, who are nearly 13 times more likely to be killed by a gun than white kids, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Democratic state Rep. Bruce Antone, who represents Ocoee and Orlando, last week filed House Bill 573 which would establish a task force “to comprehensively address the crisis of crime and gun violence in Florida's urban and inner-city communities.”

Florida currently ranks fifth in the nation for most mass shootings in 2023 — with 31, it’s tied with New York — according to the Gun Violence Archive. In Orange County, gun-related homicides rose 47 percent between November 2022 and March 2023 compared to the same time period the previous year, according to Live Free USA.

Gun violence is especially devastating to Black communities where gun-related homicides rose 61 percent between 2018 and 2021. Gun violence is the leading cause of death for Black children, who are nearly 13 times more likely to be killed by a gun than white kids, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Among Black women and girls, gun-related homicides rose 78 percent between 2019 and 2021. And more Black youths and men are killed by guns than from the following 15 causes combined: unintentional injuries, suicide, heart disease, COVID-19, cancer, non-firearm homicides, diabetes, congenital abnormalities, chronic respiratory diseases, police shootings, cerebrovascular diseases, anemias, sepsis, influenza and pneumonia, and HIV.

If passed, Antone’s Task Force on Public Safety in Urban and Inner City Communities would investigate the “system failures” and other reasons for crime and gun violence in urban areas and inner-city neighborhoods.

According to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence: “…gun violence in Black communities is a direct cause and consequence of the systematic, structural disadvantaging of these populations. Research shows that high rates of gun violence seen today have been forged by past and present racial discrimination, including historic racial segregation and disinvestment.”

Created within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the task force would have a $600,000 budget and the power and authority to conduct hearings and subpoena officials, administer oaths and collect evidence. The task force would begin its work by Sept. 1, 2024, meet quarterly and produce a report with strategies for reducing gun violence and crime. It would disband on Dec. 31, 2025.

Sixteen task force members would be appointed by Aug. 1, 2024. They would include the chair of the Florida Council on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys along with five nominees apiece, to be chosen by the governor, senate president and speaker of the house. The FDLE executive director and the secretaries of the Departments of Juvenile Justice and Children and Families would serve as ex-officio and nonvoting members.

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