The recent mass shootings have left many people in the United States wondering what to do next. Most who are vocal have called for certain firearms bans. While those in office have indicated they do not have any plans to do so because they don’t feel it will change anything. But in Florida legislators learned really quickly what needed to be done when they haphazardly supported and voted for a weapons ban.
The Daily Mail reported,
“The Florida state senate briefly approved a two-year freeze on the sale of AR-15 rifles on Saturday, before overturning the measure 15 minutes after the initial vote. The vote to pass the bill came on an unrecorded voice vote, in which lawmakers shouted ‘yea’ or ‘nay’. Senate President Joe Negron, a Republican, ruled that the amendment passed on the voice vote, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
The measure then failed 21-17 on a recorded vote minutes later. The no votes were all cast by Republicans, while two Republicans joined 15 Democrats on the yea votes.
The surprise vote came on an amendment to bill SB 7026, which would inject millions of dollars into mental health and school safety programs, as well as impose new limits on gun access for the first time in three decades in Florida.
Lawmakers debated the bill passionately on a rare weekend session, just weeks after the massacre that left 17 dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Senator David Simmons, a Republican who opposes the ban, defended the need for civilians in a constitutional republic to keep and bear arms. ‘Our founding fathers weren’t talking about hunting, and they weren’t talking about protecting themselves from the thief down the street who might break in,’ he said, adding that citizens need guns to protect themselves from a tyrannical government.
Simmons cited Adolph Hitler’s seizure of guns from German citizens as an example of the potential negative consequences of gun control measures. Democrat Senator Kevin Rader, who is Jewish and represents Parkland, called the analogy ‘absolutely unfair’ and said he supported the ban on sales of AR-15s. He recalled the evening he spent with parents waiting for victims to be identified.
AR-15 style rifles are semi-automatic and have removable magazines. Their sale to civilians was previously banned at the federal level for ten years, ending in 2004.
Controversy around the weapons has grown after several high-profile mass shootings.
However roughly 90 per cent of the firearms homicides in the US are committed with handguns, in cases where the type of gun is known, according to the FBI. It the Florida amendment temporarily banning AR-15 sales had passed in the state Senate, it is unlikely that it would have passed the state House, which is even more conservative.
The Senate session on Saturday was originally supposed to wrap up discussion by 1pm. But senators extended the session to 9pm as debate on numerous amendments extended for hours. The Florida bill includes $18.3million for mobile crisis teams working with the Department of Children and Families and the schools; $500,000 for mental health first aid training: and $69million for mental health assistance to school districts. It would also extend a three-day waiting period for handguns to all firearms, ban bump stocks and raise the age limit to purchase shotguns and rifles to 21, which is already the federal age limit for handguns. A final vote on the bill won’t be held until Monday.”
The Washington Post reported,
“State Sen. Linda Stewart, a Democrat who introduced the amendment to ban assault weapons, said on the Senate floor that ammunition from assault weapons can blow up inside the victim’s body and that there is no reason for anyone to have them. “I want us to do today what the kids asked us to do when 10,000 of them came up here on the steps of the capitol and asked us,” she said. “Never again. Please ban assault weapons.”
State Sen. Kelli Stargel (R) argued that banning assault weapons could be a slippery slope. Would fertilizer, used in the 1995 bombing of an Oklahoma City federal building, be banned? Or pressure cookers, used in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings? “Thoughts and prayers are really the only thing that’s going to stop the evil from within the individual that is taking up their arms to do this type of massacre,” Stargel said. Jaclyn Corin, the junior class president at Stoneman Douglas High, tweeted that the vote “breaks my heart, but we will NOT let this ruin our movement.””
Time and time again the banning of certain firearms has never proved to end mass shootings. This is not a firearm problem but a people problem. We have a problem with unaddressed mental illness in our country. And it is when mentally unstable people get firearms into their hands that we are in trouble. Which is why legislators have never worked in recent years to ban certain types of guns.
These Florida politicians are a perfect example. Just fifteen minutes after approving a weapon ban it got overturned. They should never have done it to begin with, but at least they saw the error of their ways and quickly. This would have likely had serious implications for them come election season in November.
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