Guns are a public safety issue to be addressed now, protesters say

Dozens of people gathered in downtown Tampa on Friday to honor National Gun Violence Awareness Day, which follows a series of mass shootings across the country.

Tampa Police Chief Mary O’Connor read a proclamation from Mayor Jane Castor, then explained why the day is important to her.

“One of my biggest platforms is to reduce violent crime,” O’Connor said. “There always seems to be an increased focus on reducing gun violence when there is a mass tragedy. I want the gun violence initiative to be at the forefront of everyone’s mind every day.”

The rally comes after at least three mass shootings in the past three weeks, killing 35 people in Tulsa, Okla., Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, NY

Many protesters, including Hillsborough State’s Attorney Andrew Warren, are urging lawmakers to toughen gun laws, conduct background checks and limit the sale of AR-15 weapons, which have been used in 11 mass shootings since 2012.

RELATED: Uvalde Schools Police Chief Pete Arredondo didn’t have a radio during filming: senator

“Military-style assault weapons have been used in so many mass shootings. They are weapons designed for the battlefield, instruments of war that have no place in a civilized society. Gun violence and mass shootings were at their lowest in the ten years the assault weapons ban was in place,” Warren said. “We need action. There are solutions. We just need to have the leadership in place to implement them.”

The protest comes as gun owners and advocates prepare for the Florida Gun Show in Tampa this weekend.

Robert Geisler, the general manager of Shoot Straight, believes that these shootings are reasons not to cancel the gun show.

“In the wake of the shooting, it’s important that people exercise their Second Amendment,” Geisler said. “We don’t have the luxury of private security, so protecting your wife, family, or home is important to Floridians, especially here in Tampa.”

Chief O’Connor said the public can help reduce gun violence by participating in investigations, calling for advice and calling the police if they see anything unusual.