‘You’re Putting People in Harm’s Way’: Boricua Sen. Torres Blasts DeSantis’ Open-Carry Gun Law

Image via Desiree Tapia

By Giselle Balido

February 10, 2023

As the fifth anniversary of the Parkland massacre is commemorated on Feb. 14, the Boricua senator spoke about the governor’s push to pass legislation allowing gun owners to carry a gun in public without a permit.

The fifth anniversary of the Parkland massacre will be commemorated on Feb. 14. On that day, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz opened fire on students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, murdering 17 people and injuring 17 others. Cruz has been sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. 

Sadly, the Parkland tragedy is only one of many in the Sunshine State. Someone is killed with a gun every three hours in Florida. More alarmingly, the state ranks #2 in mass shootings across the nation. Guns are also the third-leading cause of death for Florida children ages 1–17, according to data provided by Giffords Law Center.  

RELATED: ‘Reckless’: Florida GOP Leaders Want to Get Rid of Gun Permits

Yet despite the grim statistics, during the March legislative session Florida Republicans will be pushing for the passage of House Bill 543, which would change current Florida law, eliminating a concealed-weapons licensing process that includes people undergoing criminal background checks and completing firearms-training courses.  Sen. Victor (Vic) Torres, Jr., a Boricua Democrat representing south Orange and north Osceola counties, spoke to Floricua on the dangers he sees in this legislation.

Senator, as we near the fifth anniversary of the Parkland tragedy, what is your opinion of HB 543?

It is so dangerous. As you know, I was in law enforcement for 20 years in New York [as a police officer for the New York City Transit Police]. And you just don’t let anybody buy a gun and carry it on them and say ‘you don’t have to have a permit. You don’t have to have training. You don’t have to go through a background check.’ Things are too dangerous right now in our communities.

RELATED: Florida Moves to Ban Credit Card Companies From Tracking Gun Sales

What are some of your biggest concerns?

Just picture anybody buying a gun and walking around with a gun in their pocket or tucked under their shirt. And, if they fear something, or they look at you, they take it out. Then the other question is, how do you think police are going to interpret it when you display a gun? Do they know if you’re a good guy or a bad guy? You have to have background checks. Do you know if that person is mentally stable? Do you know if that person has a criminal history? You can’t [know] that without getting fingerprints and without doing a background check. So, I say that Gov. DeSantis is pushing a bad bill, one that’s really bad for the community, bad for law enforcement.

Yet Gov. Ron DeSantis and others in the GOP are pushing for this bill to pass. What do you think is their motivation?

I think it’s just bravado, you know, the macho ‘Look what I could do,’ to show the country ‘this is how [I’d do it] if I were President of the United States. I would pass legislation like this, I would change laws, everybody could be armed.’ It’s really scary to think that this man who, by the way, was in the military, thinks this way. You’re not protecting people, what you’re doing is putting people into harm’s way. 



  • Giselle Balido

    Giselle is Floricua's political correspondent. She writes about the economy, environmental and social justice, and all things Latino. A published author, Giselle was born in Havana and grew up in New Jersey and Miami. She is passionate about equality, books, and cats.



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