Politics & Government

State Rep. Greg Steube comments on Orlando shootings, strengthens stance against banning assault rifles

Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, addresses key legislative issues at the 2016 Legislative Roundtable preview in this Herald file photo.
Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, addresses key legislative issues at the 2016 Legislative Roundtable preview in this Herald file photo. gjefferies@bradenton.com

The Orlando massacre has strengthened the position State Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, has on guns. Steube, who has filed for election to a state Senate seat that doesn't include Manatee County, said the law preventing guns in bars did not prevent Omar Mateen from walking into a nightclub and killing 49 people.

“It only prevented law-abiding citizens from defending themselves and made the location a target,” the politician said in a release. “In fact, research shows that most mass shooters target gun-free zones as they know they can kill as many as possible until the police arrive, which in this case was almost three hours. Should law-abiding Americans have to wait for three hours for help when fellow Americans with proper training and certification could have been there to defend themselves and others?”

Steube also took issue Monday with the Sarasota City Commission’s plans to discuss a resolution that limits the availability of assault weapons to law enforcement agencies.

“I realize that that’s just a resolution,” Steube told a Herald reporter, “but any type of ban on firearms for law-abiding citizens, I don’t think, is appropriate.”

Steube is for expanding rights to concealed carry permit holders and said the shootings in Orlando did not make him reconsider his views.

“Where the shooting occurred is an exact example of the things that I’ve been fighting against,” he said. “You don’t see people walking into a place where licensed concealed carry permit holders are and doing mass shootings.”

According to multiple media reports, nothing in Omar Mateen's background prohibited him from legally buying those guns. Steube said that’s a matter of opinion.

“The guy was investigated, from my understanding, twice by the FBI. I don’t see how a terrorist was able to go through the national background checks and not be flagged,” Steube said, in reference to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, commonly called NICS. “Yes, he didn’t have any criminal-related offenses but, according to the FBI, he was investigated for terrorism... that’s issue number-one.”

Over the past three or four years, Steube said he’s worked on legislation that put an end to a number of gun free zones.

“This is another example of a gun free zone being targeted,” he said of last week’s tragedy.

Amaris Castillo: 941-745-7051, @AmarisCastillo