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TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 2/26/18-About 1,000 advocates for gun law reform march to the Capitol Monday in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

Emails & Opinions

Joe Henderson: A little gun sanity finally comes to Florida

There are two reasons to feel at least a little bit good about what the Florida Legislature just did in the name of gun sanity.

First, families of the 17 victims in the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland supported the compromise bill calling for age and other restrictions on gun sales in Florida.

And second, the National Rifle Association hates the bill. Despite efforts by no less than NRA Grand Dame Marion Hammer to scuttle it, the measure passed.

That’s good enough for me, even though I hate the idea of allowing so-called volunteer armed marshals in schools. But districts can follow the lead of Hillsborough County, eighth-largest in the country, and opt out.

In perhaps the strangest twist of all, Gov. Rick Scott is being coy about whether he will veto the measure because he, too, opposes the marshal plan. I’m thinking his A-plus rating from NRA might be in trouble as we cue music from Hamilton – the world turned upside down.

And to think it only took a high school slaughter on Valentine’s Day to get lawmakers to finally say hey, maybe we ought to do something to pump the brakes on NRA platform that seems to want a Glock in every hand and an AR-15 within easy reach.

By that standard, the House, in passing the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act by a 67-50 margin after eight hours of contentious debate, practically threw a pie in the NRA’s face.

No one got everything they sought, which I suppose is the definition of compromise.

Gun opponents didn’t get the outright ban on assault weapon sales that they wanted or reductions in magazine sizes, but there is more money for mental health treatment, beefed up school security and the minimum age to buy such a gun was raised to 21 from its current 18 – assuming Scott signs the bill.

That might have kept the murder weapon out of the hands of confessed Parkland killer Nikolas Cruz, who is 19 and legally bought the gun used in the massacre. But it wouldn’t have stopped Pulse nightclub murderer Omar Mateen, who was 29 when he went on a rampage that left 49 people dead.

Baby steps, I guess.

The sale of bump stocks will be illegal under this bill. The bill also imposes a 3-day waiting period for someone to buy a gun. In an absurd gambit, the NRA called this punishment on “law-abiding citizens for the actions of a mentally deranged criminal.”

Note to NRA: Until he marched into Douglas High School and started shooting his legally purchased weapon, Cruz was a law-abiding citizen .

Like I said, there are some things to like about this bill and more than a little not to like. That’s why some, including the Tampa Bay Times editorial board, are calling on Scott to veto the measure, and then bring lawmakers back in special session and craft something meatier.

There is some merit to that idea and imagine what kind of juice it would give to Scott’s presumed run for the U.S. Senate. Scott could frame himself as willing to stand up to the NRA and besides, what are you gun lovers gonna do? Vote for Bill Nelson?

But I go back to where this column started with the debate on gun sanity.

Families of the Parkland victims support this bill.

The NRA hates it.

To me, that says lawmakers finally did the right thing.

Written By

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.

Andrew Gillum Andrew Gillum

Yep, the FBI did f*ck Andrew Gillum

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