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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: 484675

Reported Deaths: 9480
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison33151493
Hinds31184589
DeSoto30803365
Jackson23735349
Rankin21390373
Lee14963221
Madison14206272
Jones13430227
Forrest13199241
Lauderdale11623307
Lowndes10501176
Lamar10258130
Pearl River9151221
Lafayette8268137
Hancock7534113
Washington7144152
Oktibbeha6989124
Monroe6533167
Neshoba6489201
Warren6486166
Pontotoc632993
Panola6278127
Marshall6165126
Bolivar6129145
Union576089
Pike5626138
Alcorn540590
Lincoln5310132
George473572
Scott461596
Leflore4495140
Tippah448180
Prentiss447979
Itawamba4457100
Adams4429117
Tate4420103
Wayne434667
Simpson4339114
Copiah432988
Yazoo423686
Covington417192
Sunflower4155104
Marion4111104
Coahoma3986100
Leake398286
Newton372375
Grenada3565104
Stone351360
Tishomingo338389
Attala325987
Jasper316062
Winston305691
Clay297374
Chickasaw287866
Clarke283290
Calhoun267741
Holmes262887
Smith252249
Yalobusha224347
Tallahatchie221150
Walthall211758
Greene209945
Lawrence207034
Perry201054
Amite199452
Webster196942
Noxubee179339
Montgomery172954
Jefferson Davis168342
Carroll162537
Tunica154235
Benton143035
Kemper138840
Choctaw128826
Claiborne127134
Humphreys127038
Franklin116928
Quitman104227
Wilkinson102036
Jefferson91533
Sharkey63020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 790648

Reported Deaths: 14025
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1117431765
Mobile709021237
Madison50032633
Shelby36350315
Baldwin36278495
Tuscaloosa34034548
Montgomery33229678
Lee22712220
Calhoun21297410
Morgan19852335
Etowah19341462
Marshall17716274
Houston16862386
St. Clair15479305
Cullman14659258
Limestone14609188
Elmore14507264
Lauderdale13557281
Talladega13015236
DeKalb12214237
Walker10604330
Blount9735157
Autauga9691137
Jackson9400158
Coffee8934175
Dale8631173
Colbert8545184
Tallapoosa6688181
Escambia6599121
Covington6466167
Chilton6395144
Russell608755
Franklin5805101
Chambers5425134
Marion4818120
Dallas4713189
Clarke464079
Pike463297
Geneva4433117
Winston427395
Lawrence4124108
Bibb410281
Barbour347470
Marengo326485
Monroe320253
Butler318490
Randolph306656
Pickens306474
Henry302658
Hale293085
Cherokee290855
Fayette280373
Washington245548
Crenshaw238770
Cleburne236751
Clay229265
Macon220658
Lamar200443
Conecuh182046
Coosa170835
Lowndes170858
Wilcox159736
Bullock149543
Perry136537
Sumter124736
Greene121443
Choctaw73427
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