MSNBC anchor Ali Velshi blasted Florida’s gun laws in the wake of last weekend’s deadly shooting in Jacksonville, even though the perpetrator purchased the weapons in Maryland.
David Katz, a 24-year-old Maryland resident, armed himself with a .45 and a 9mm pistol and then opened fire at a video game tournament in Jacksonville, killing two and injuring at least 12 on Sunday. He bought both guns legally in Baltimore; authorities think he only used one gun in the attack before he committed suicide.
Velshi acknowledged at the outset of his segment there was still more to learn about the gunman before he launched into a screed against Florida’s gun laws. They have been under fresh scrutiny in the wake of February’s mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
“As we wait to learn more about the Jacksonville shooter, where he got his gun and how he got it from Maryland to Florida, it is worth looking at the gun laws in Florida,” Velshi said on Monday. “Florida does not require a permit to purchase rifles or handguns. It does not require any firearm registration either, or any licensing for gun owners.”
“To carry a rifle, no permit is needed whatsoever. Carrying a handgun, however, does require a permit, and that restriction is one of the few on gun-owners in Florida,” he added. “Other than the handgun carry permit requirement, there is a so-called ‘red flag’ law that allows police to take guns away from those deemed as dangerous by their friends and family.”
Velshi also noted “local governments” in Florida are forbidden from enacting gun laws diverting from state law. Then, he played—and mocked—a clip of Gov. Rick Scott (R.) reflecting on the killings in Jacksonville.”
“We need to really stop and start praying about why young men—why this is happening to young men,” he said. “I think we’ve got to pray about it. Now, you’ve got to take action. You can’t just pray about something. But something’s got to change.”
“Well, which is it?” Velshi asked after Scott’s clip ended. “Something’s got to change or we’re going to pray about it?”
Newsbusters noted that correspondent Maya Rodriguez informed Velshi shortly afterward that the guns were brought in Maryland, but Velshi still promoted the segment attacking Florida’s laws Tuesday morning from his Twitter account.
“Here’s how ridiculously easy it is to get a gun in Florida,” he wrote.
Here’s how ridiculously easy it is to get a gun in Floridahttps://t.co/T3HZiWisTl
— Ali Velshi (@AliVelshi) August 28, 2018
National Rifle Association spokeswoman Dana Loesch slammed Velshi on Twitter for promoting the segment.
Except the killer purchased his two handguns in Maryland, which has 30 day waiting periods, universal background checks, registration, license to purchase, may-issue LTC, ban on perviously institutionalized persons owning guns, and no reciprocity with Florida. https://t.co/1cIvE5mvNj
— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) August 28, 2018
Maryland has some of the country’s strictest gun laws. To buy the guns, he would have had to obtain a handgun qualification license from the state police before buying a pistol or revolver, which would mean submitting his fingerprints, passing a background check and passing a firearms safety training course, CNN reports.
Velshi serves as a daytime anchor for MSNBC and occasionally fills in for its more explicitly liberal primetime hosts, including Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell.
He has previously said, on the air and without evidence, he thinks the NRA counts him as a member of its organization in its “secret records.”