Declaring that Republican leadership in Tallahassee has “transformed Florida into a petri dish of experimentation for the NRA” and “utterly failed to address public health and mental health care,” Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King said Friday he would fight the gun lobby, veto their bills, and seek to expand coverage and ban assault weapons.

The pledges are not new to King or to Democrats in general, though King, a Winter Park businessman, offered them as his call to action following the horrific mass murder at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday. He also urged support for House Bill 219 and Senate Bill 196, two bills to ban assault weapons, sponsored by state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith and state Sen. Linda Stewart, both Orlando Democrats.

“The next governor must have the courage to stand up and say that we will not allow weapons designed for the killing fields to be sold in our state,” King said in a statement that also was included in a video message posted to his campaign’s Facebook page.

Specifically, King vowed that he would oppose and veto bills he said make Florida “less safe,” such as a provision to Senate Bill  740 that would expand concealed weapons permits availability; expand mental health coverage availability by expanding Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act in Florida; and push to ban assault weapons.

“The shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School chose an AR-15 semi-automatic assault weapon. These types of weapons have been used again and again in mass shootings across the country: Aurora, Newtown, San Bernardino, Orlando, Sutherland Springs, Las Vegas, and now Parkland,” King said “These shootings should be reason enough that weapons designed for war should not be in our neighborhoods. One individual with a weapon like this can do unspeakable damage in a matter of seconds and no cavalry of well-armed law enforcement or good samaritans can move quickly enough to stop it.”

King, who attended Thursday’s vigil in Parkland, specifically criticized Republican gubernatorial candidate and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam for supporting the concealed weapons provision in SB 740, and indirectly criticized him by declaring that “Florida’s leaders call themselves ‘proud NRA sellouts.'”

“We have seen how effective the NRA and the gun lobby are in moments like these,” King said. “The gun lobby muddies the waters and delays any discussion on guns until the news vans and camera crews have gone home and most Americans have moved on. But we are stronger. We owe it to the victims and to our children to draw a line in the sand. We can’t just talk about guns, we must put our best ideas forward. We must not stop until we achieve change that will make us all safer. This is how we honor the victims of such unspeakable tragedies — with action.”

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