Florida's gun vote was going to fail, even before Parkland

On Tuesday night, even as 100 or so students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were making their way to the s...

Posted: Feb 21, 2018 2:43 PM
Updated: Feb 21, 2018 2:43 PM

On Tuesday night, even as 100 or so students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were making their way to the state capitol in Tallahassee, the state House voted against proceeding to a debate on an assault weapons ban.

The vote -- and the images of several of the students from the school that, a week ago, saw 17 people murdered, crying in the House gallery -- drew national attention.

It also got me to wondering about whether the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, will have any real legislative impact in the Sunshine State. To answer that question -- and for more context about how Florida's state government has dealt with gun laws in recent years -- I reached out to Mary Ellen Klas, the Tallahassee bureau chief of the Miami Herald.

Our conversation, conducted via email and lightly edited for flow, is below.

Cillizza: The Florida state House voted down the chance to move on to a debate about an assault weapons ban on Tuesday night. Was that a surprise given the circumstances?

Klas: The vote was to add to the calendar a bill sponsored by Democrats that had never gotten a hearing. It was a procedural move planned by the incoming Democratic leader and intended to embarrass the Republican-led House.

But the vote would never have gotten the super-majority to vote needed. The students clearly were not prepared for what they saw but it demonstrated the predicted path of gun control measures in the Florida Legislature.

Cillizza: What's been the legislature's stance on gun policy over the past decade or so? More stringent gun laws? Less? Any major legislation either way?

Klas: Florida's gun laws have gotten more lenient for the last decade as the conservative majority, pushed by gun rights groups, have passed so-called "stand your ground" laws and measures to prevent counties and cities from passing stricter gun laws than the state.

Cillizza: Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, promised gun control legislation that would "move the needle." Do we have any sense of what he is planning?

Klas: He is expected to embrace the proposal advanced by House and Senate leaders that would be the first limit on gun access in Florida in more than a decade. The plan will raise the age of possession and sale of a semi-automatic weapons from 18 to 21 and apply the three-day waiting period to those sales as well.

Cillizza: What could pass the GOP-controlled state House and Senate? Is there a majority for background checks? Raising the age to buy a gun?

Klas: There appears to be clear support for passage of the plan to raise the age to buy a semi-automatic weapon and increase the requirements of background checks. But the legislation has not yet been filed, so many legislators are withholding a commitment until they see the language.

Cillizza: Finish this sentence: "A year from now, the legislative impact of the pop-up activism by the students of MSD will be considered _________." Now, explain.

Klas: "incremental but significant."

Although the initial change will be modest, the fact that it took this tragedy to soften the Florida legislature's resistance to modifying its gun laws will be remembered in history. The question remains: Will this be the beginning or the end?

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 245847

Reported Deaths: 5356
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto16717168
Hinds15748310
Harrison12806188
Rankin10334204
Jackson9996172
Lee8666135
Madison7994158
Jones6112108
Forrest5826117
Lauderdale5672174
Lowndes5186106
Lafayette482792
Lamar471162
Washington4700122
Bolivar3915105
Oktibbeha384279
Panola357274
Pontotoc356552
Monroe3463101
Union334755
Warren334692
Marshall333264
Neshoba3310149
Pearl River313891
Leflore2969104
Lincoln290185
Sunflower275868
Tate264759
Alcorn257850
Itawamba257058
Pike254876
Hancock246957
Prentiss240047
Scott238743
Copiah235649
Yazoo235054
Tippah233845
Simpson230166
Leake226764
Coahoma219054
Grenada213970
Covington207171
Marion203371
Adams200065
Winston196260
George195937
Wayne193029
Attala190958
Newton185142
Chickasaw179943
Tishomingo179059
Holmes167467
Jasper163533
Clay155632
Stone138818
Tallahatchie137033
Clarke135160
Calhoun132021
Smith117322
Yalobusha112534
Walthall110536
Noxubee108922
Greene108229
Montgomery107134
Carroll102320
Lawrence99817
Perry98631
Amite95725
Webster90024
Claiborne84125
Tunica84021
Jefferson Davis82925
Humphreys80324
Benton79722
Kemper75620
Quitman6678
Franklin64613
Choctaw59412
Wilkinson57424
Jefferson52019
Sharkey42317
Issaquena1576
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 414583

Reported Deaths: 5945
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson60842887
Mobile29590538
Madison26466183
Tuscaloosa20537267
Montgomery18562304
Shelby18181112
Baldwin15841177
Lee1212097
Morgan12002112
Etowah11488142
Calhoun10863197
Marshall10048106
Houston8405123
Cullman792294
Limestone785073
Elmore7670101
DeKalb757282
St. Clair7417120
Lauderdale740282
Talladega6036108
Walker5834176
Jackson571937
Colbert522270
Blount521980
Autauga507555
Coffee431456
Dale388278
Franklin362145
Chilton332965
Covington325567
Russell318910
Escambia309842
Dallas297988
Chambers275769
Clarke272933
Tallapoosa2591107
Pike245829
Lawrence239345
Marion238649
Winston222535
Bibb211347
Geneva196331
Marengo196329
Pickens195331
Hale172542
Barbour169636
Butler166958
Fayette164026
Cherokee158330
Henry149219
Monroe143617
Randolph137635
Washington135426
Clay124446
Crenshaw117444
Lamar116819
Cleburne115123
Macon111935
Lowndes107935
Wilcox99921
Bullock97128
Perry95019
Conecuh92820
Sumter89126
Greene75123
Coosa59814
Choctaw50824
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Cloudy
41° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 35°
Columbus
Mostly Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 30°
Oxford
Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 30°
Starkville
Mostly Cloudy
36° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 30°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather