Fla. senate revokes 2-year ban on AR-15s minutes after it passes
For a moment, Florida lawmakers gave gun control a shot.
The Florida state senate briefly approved a two-year freeze on the sale of AR-15 assault rifles on Saturday — before overturning the measure 15 minutes after the initial vote.
The semi-automatic rifle was the type used in the Parkland, Fla., high school massacre on Feb. 14.
The fleeting prohibition came on an unrecorded voice vote, in which lawmakers shouted yea or nay, according to the Tampa Bay Times. It was swiftly reconsidered and overturned by a more formal roll call vote of 21-17.
The Parkland shooting has reignited the national conversation about gun control and spurred state and federal lawmakers to reassess sweeping firearm reforms.
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Two out of three adults in the United States want stricter gun laws, CBS found in a poll conducted a week after tragedy. But among Republicans, 54% want gun laws left alone or made less strict.
All of the votes in the Florida senate that rejected the bill banning AR-15s were from Republicans.
They argued that a ban on any specific weapon would be unconstitutional and the first step toward confiscating guns from law-abiding citizens, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez (D-Miami), meanwhile, called assault rifles “weapons of war designed to kill efficiently and effectively … and then they’re modified for civilian use by a $17 billion industry.”
The state’s legislature weighed several other gun-related measures on Saturday, including bills concerning mental health and school safety. Final votes on the measures are set for Monday.
The confusion in Florida reflects the greater uncertainty on the issue in the nation’s capital.
President Trump, called on lawmakers to lead the charge toward comprehensive gun reform, has instead left many frustrated as he oscillates between calling for tougher laws and declaring his allegiance to his friends the National Rifle Association.
“Background Checks a big part of conversation. Gun free zones are proven targets of killers. After many years, a Bill should emerge. Respect 2nd Amendment!” Trump tweeted earlier in the week.
Trump called for a “beautiful” and “comprehensive” bill at a bipartisan meeting that was followed by a private session with NRA officials on Thursday.
“Good (Great) meeting in the Oval Office tonight with the NRA!” Trump tweeted.
The lack of direction from the White House has left advocates and activists fuming as Congress prepares to move on to other issues.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shelved the gun debate on the federal level for the moment, saying the Senate will turn next week to other measures.
Republicans have largely backed away from stricter gun limits, while Democrats emboldened by Trump’s rhetoric are pushing for ambitious action, including expanded background checks and even a politically risky ban on assault weapons.