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.

Confirmed Cases: 115763

Reported Deaths: 3263
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7973177
DeSoto703979
Harrison522384
Jackson457884
Rankin394086
Madison383194
Lee357380
Forrest304678
Jones292484
Washington258399
Lafayette250443
Lauderdale2478135
Lamar225538
Oktibbeha202454
Bolivar201677
Neshoba1849111
Lowndes179962
Panola170040
Leflore167187
Sunflower162349
Warren154855
Monroe150673
Pontotoc147220
Marshall143129
Lincoln140157
Pike138456
Copiah137536
Scott125429
Coahoma124937
Grenada122638
Yazoo122234
Simpson121549
Union118825
Tate116839
Leake115041
Holmes114760
Itawamba113925
Pearl River113660
Adams108544
Prentiss106120
Wayne101722
Alcorn100112
George99218
Covington97527
Marion95042
Tippah90322
Newton86627
Chickasaw85526
Tallahatchie84526
Winston84121
Hancock84028
Tishomingo81241
Attala79426
Clarke75851
Clay69321
Jasper68717
Walthall63927
Calhoun62612
Noxubee59817
Smith59416
Montgomery54923
Yalobusha54514
Claiborne53716
Tunica53517
Lawrence51814
Perry49423
Carroll49312
Greene47818
Stone47514
Humphreys43816
Amite42513
Quitman4206
Jefferson Davis41011
Webster37613
Benton3416
Wilkinson33820
Kemper32615
Sharkey28514
Jefferson27610
Franklin2423
Choctaw2086
Issaquena1074
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 158701

Reported Deaths: 2680
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson23292377
Mobile16916315
Tuscaloosa10345140
Montgomery10250197
Madison935096
Shelby739063
Baldwin665869
Lee654665
Calhoun459961
Marshall439550
Etowah428551
Houston417034
Morgan416435
DeKalb342629
Elmore320853
St. Clair295542
Limestone287230
Walker279492
Talladega266435
Cullman248024
Lauderdale229442
Jackson215915
Autauga205931
Franklin205531
Colbert202132
Russell19493
Blount193225
Chilton188432
Dallas186627
Coffee177111
Dale176351
Covington174729
Escambia172730
Clarke135217
Chambers135044
Pike134113
Tallapoosa132987
Marion108129
Barbour10339
Marengo101922
Butler101140
Winston92913
Geneva9067
Lawrence85832
Pickens85218
Bibb84014
Randolph82716
Hale76830
Washington74912
Clay74412
Cherokee73814
Henry7176
Lowndes71328
Bullock64917
Monroe64610
Crenshaw60830
Perry5926
Fayette57713
Cleburne5698
Wilcox56812
Conecuh56113
Macon53620
Lamar4965
Sumter47221
Choctaw39212
Greene34216
Coosa2043
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