The Florida Senate took the better part of eight hours during a rare Saturday session to work through 128 amendments — only one of which passed the floor — on a single bill.
And even with the amendment’s approval, partisan spirits haven’t changed on the proposal designed to address issues unearthed in the wake of the recent school shooting in Broward County.
Dubbed the “Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act,” or SB 7026, the sweeping proposal provides for stricter gun control laws, including a three-day waiting period to buy any firearm, and a new age limit — 21 (up from 18) — for firearms purchases, along with an all-out ban on bump stocks.
It also creates a commission to make recommendations on school safety and invests millions in mental-health and school safety initiatives, which include a program that would train and arm teachers on a voluntary basis.
Of course, not everyone is happy.
Democrats, along with Parkland survivors and victims’ families have criticized the proposal for its lack of an assault-weapons ban. The charged Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter, Nikolas Cruz, was equipped with an assault rifle when he killed 17 people at the school on Feb. 14. Gov. Rick Scott also has come out strongly against the idea of arming teachers.
These points of criticism set the stage for the Senate’s eight-hour floor session on Saturday. Members of both parties filed hundreds of amendments, withdrawing some and heavily debating others. Arguments over an outright ban on assault weapons took an entire hour in the chamber. Other Democratic-backed amendments lent to lengthy discussions, but the Senate refrained from adopting anything that would fundamentally change the legislation.
At one point, Democrats experienced something particularly Sisyphean. Senate President Joe Negron had approved through a voice vote the adoption of an amendment providing a two-year moratorium on assault weapons sales. After a few minutes, a motion to reconsider brought the language to a failing board vote.
Pro-gun Republicans filed their fair share of amendments, too.
Sen. David Simmons of Altamonte Springs argued for an amendment that would’ve changed the firearms age requirement to only apply to assault weapons sales. In other words, the age limit for purchasing rifles would remain at its current level, 18.
“It’s a rational solution to a significant problem,” Simmons said. He said he feared that raising the age limit on gun purchases could bring constitutional challenges in court.
Galvano, who sponsored the strike-all amendment approved by the chamber on Saturday, often had to explain to members that law enforcement would iron out the details of the plan to arm teachers. At one point it was asked whether teachers would be able to carry assault rifles and display them in classrooms, to which Galvano said would be up to the sheriff’s design of the plan.
“The sheriffs will describe the protocols,” Galvano said. Referencing the possibility of teachers having assault rifles, he added: “That’s, in my opinion, a far-fetched hypothetical.” He said someone from the Office of School Safety likely would not approve such a policy, as they can exert judgment on program designs.
The Senate will vote on SB 7026 on Monday.
Mary Jo Pezzi
March 4, 2018 at 1:36 am
Federally, all gun owners should be required to have a gun permit (just like a driver’s license) that requires proof of a background check (at least!) that holds gun owners accountable for their property — deadly weapons. Anyone without a gun permit found in possession of guns should go to jail for up to 5 years! This would allow law enforcement to take guns out of the hands of criminals, without bothering legal gun owners in any way! AR-15 and other assault weapons, 100-round magazines etc should never be in the hands of anyone except law enforcement and military. They are weapons meant for war zones not streets and schools and concert halls and theaters and malls! Anything short of these measures will fail.. and be just another reason for the NRA to use fear and hate to sell more guns! Please do your job! I am tracking this legislation, and I will go door to door to vote out those who turn this opportunity into a puppet-session.
March 4, 2018 at 7:24 am
Mary Jo, before you are allow to use your first amendment rights to post here, I’m going to need you to get a license that allows you to say these things. I want the government to look at your past and current mental status before your allowed to speak freely. See where I’m going with this? Can you imagine having to get a license to stop the authorities from coming into your home and going through your things without a warrant. We should treat the second amendment like we treat other rights.
Mary Jo Pezzi
March 4, 2018 at 6:00 pm
Words don’t kill. Before I am allowed to drive my SUV on any roadway, I must have a drivers permit to learn how to drive and/or pass a written and actual driving test to see if I am responsible enough to take a big hunk of metal onto the road. I also have to have insurance that pays for any damage to someone else’s vehicle and/or body or the city street posts. Do you get where I am going with this? Because lives are at risk, gun owners need to be accountable. A couple years ago, a bunch of lawmakers (on behalf of the gun lobby) tried to make it illegal for insurance companies to charge higher premiums for home owner’s insurance when there are guns in the house due to a higher risk factor. People who do not own their own homes have zero insurance that would pay for injuries caused by them mishandling or intentional use of handguns, rifles and these obnoxious weapons of war that can rapid fire 50 – 100 bullets at a high rate of speed that penetrates bullet proof vests, goes through walls and chews up human flesh like it was hamburger. There are plenty of law enforcement and other first respondents, who now suffer from PTSD because of involvement in some of these WEEKLY mass killings… at schools, theaters, malls, concert halls and outdoor events. More guns will not fix this. BTW – the mentally ill were not sent to other countries in Australia and the UK. When those countries put in place sensible gun control, the mass shootings stopped.
March 4, 2018 at 9:22 am
If Mary Jo exercises her first Amendment right in a school hallway, she would be yelling in the hallway. If she exercised her second amendment right, she could have a loaded AR in a building of children.
Bob, don’t make the mistake of confusing the two. You need a license to operate a vehicle because it is a dangerous machine that you need to show proficiency in, to avoid bodily harm.
A car is a mode of transportation, and a gun is made literally to kill things.
The second amendment was written when we had no standing army and were at risk of being invaded by a world who saw us not as a nation but simple farm colonies. The amendment has lived passed its intended use and should be heavily reconsidered.
The founding fathers could have never have foreseen the technological advances in firearms, the were using muskets, not Assault Rifles
March 4, 2018 at 5:19 pm
Just so you know driving is a privilege and the 2nd amendment is a right
George Payne III
March 4, 2018 at 11:30 am
The 2nd Amendment is clear no laws will be written that infringe on the natural right of Americans to keep and bear arms.
Mary Jo Pezzi
March 4, 2018 at 6:12 pm
So you are just fine with the fact that some low-life can buy an AR-15, who has zero insurance and zero care that you love your daughter. He kills her in a few seconds and then has a Coke and burger at McDonalds. I guess it’s only fair that your insurance will pay the hospital bills, the funeral expenses etc etc. Until we have accountability for gun ownership, we will continue to have outlaws with guns, mentally unstable people with guns etc. We need gun permits so we know who is a responsible gun owner and who is possibly a convicted criminal or fresh out of a mental health institution or a few rounds of domestic violence court action. BTW — a domestic violence victim is 400 times more likely to be killed if there is a gun in the house… and yet, many states don’t even bother to report domestic violence cases to the FBI database… I guess they are siding with the pro-gun community. If the “good” gun owners would simply have a permit that proves they have gone through a background check, we could clean up a lot of the issues in places like Chicago that is full of guns from other states that have been purchased and trafficked into the area by “strawman” profiteers.
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