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Florida Democrats Borrow a Page From D.C. Colleagues Hoping to Force Gun Control Vote

| June 28, 2016

orlando massacre

But Florida lawmakers may not be up for it. (© Scott Spradley for FlaglerLive)

Florida Democrats had little trouble rounding up enough members to call for a vote on whether to hold a special session dealing with gun control as a reaction to last month’s mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

However, it may be nearly impossible over the next week to gather enough Republican lawmakers willing to make the trek to humid Tallahassee in an election year to discuss a proposed prohibition on gun sales to people on federal terrorism watch lists.

Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday submitted 46 letters from House and Senate members — more than the 32 required — to demand Secretary of State Ken Detzner poll all 160 legislators in the next week on the special session request.

“The key is we’ve requested at the very least (that) we review reforms we all support, such as banning people … who are on the terrorist FBI watch list” from buying guns, said state Sen. Darren Soto, an Orlando Democrat who is running for a Central Florida congressional seat. Soto and state Rep. Jared Moskowitz, D-Coral Springs, led a press conference Tuesday outside the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando to repeat the call for the extra session.

“Right now in Florida,” Soto continued, “there’s nothing stopping individuals on these lists from purchasing firearms and letting this happen again.”

The push for the special session comes in the wake of the June 12 massacre at Pulse, a gay nightclub, during which a gunman killed 49 people and wounded 50 others before he was killed by police. The attack is the worst mass shooting in the nation’s history.

Rep. Janet Cruz of Tampa, set to lead House Democrats after the November elections, said the legislation can’t wait until the next regular session in March.

“The welfare of our people is at stake,” Cruz said.

Support to call the session is required from three-fifths of the members of each chamber of the Legislature, something that will be extremely difficult with the current Republican majorities.

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli issued a statement Tuesday encouraging each member to “follow their conscience,” while quickly saying he won’t vote for a session “motivated by partisan politics.”

“I know I speak for representatives of both parties when I say that if there was a meaningful, constitutional, and implementable state law to prevent future terrorist attacks, we would certainly pass it,” said Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island. “I strongly support a ban on terrorists’ ability to purchase firearms. Since the list is maintained at the federal level, the state cannot pass an effective or constitutional law implementing such a ban.”

Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, added he wouldn’t vote to turn “the Senate floor into a campaign stop for those seeking higher office.”

“The fact remains that absent federal action, Florida cannot pass a law to require the federal government to turn over sensitive information regarding investigations of terrorism,” Gardiner said in a statement. “I too am frustrated with the partisan bickering that so often paralyzes Washington, but the fact remains that a special session of the Florida Legislature cannot take the place of leadership in Washington.”

In a column appearing Monday in the Northwest Daily News, Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, wrote that a special session was “peddled off the back of campaign bandwagons.”

“Huddling up a bunch of breathless legislators in Tallahassee to snap-pass laws banning guns won’t stop some terrorism-inspired human tool from building a bomb out of fertilizer or shopping the robust weapons black markets that inevitably exist in places where law-abiding citizens are disarmed,” wrote Gaetz, a former Senate president who is leaving office this year because of term limits.

Influential National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer said Tuesday that Democrats are “exploiting a tragedy for political gain” and may not want to actually hold the special session.

“I have not heard a single Republican say that they were interested in spending the taxpayer’s money for a special session that would achieve nothing but more publicity for Democrats,” Hammer said.

Asked if she has advised lawmakers not to vote for the session, Hammer replied: “No, we don’t do that.”

Such advice may not be needed.

Last Friday, Gov. Rick Scott bypassed a bid by Rep. Charles McBurney, R-Jacksonville, to be a circuit judge, selecting an applicant who hadn’t drawn the ire of the NRA and other gun-rights. As chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, McBurney angered Hammer and other advocates by refusing to move forward with a change to the state’s self-defense laws.

McBurney said Friday that Hammer sent a message to other lawmakers by opposing his nomination.

“The message she is sending is really to the legislators, that even if an issue doesn’t concern the Second Amendment, and even if you leave the Legislature, if you disagree with me at all, I’m coming after you,” McBurney said on Friday.

This isn’t the first time Democrats have tried to use the Secretary of State polling route outlined in state law to call for the session.

Three years ago, Democrats fell well short of the minimum 96 lawmaker support needed when seeking a special session on the state’s “stand your ground” self-defense law.

The 2013 effort stemmed from a sit-in protest at the Capitol by a group called the Dream Defenders. The group protested against the “stand your ground” law after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford.

The final tally by Detzner in that case was 47 votes for the extra session and 108 against, including seven House Democrats.

Among the House Democrats opposed to a session in 2013 were Reps. Katie Edwards of Plantation and Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda of Tallahassee.

Edwards and Rehwinkel Vasilinda also weren’t among the Democrats signing the petition for a special session this year. Other Democrats who didn’t sign the current petition include Reps. Reggie Fullwood of Jacksonville, Daphne Campbell of Miami, Kionne McGhee of Miami, Cynthia Stafford of Miami and Amanda Murphy of New Port Richey.

–Jim Turner, News Service of Florida

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9 Responses for “Florida Democrats Borrow a Page From D.C. Colleagues Hoping to Force Gun Control Vote”

  1. Sherry says:

    Why don’t I just list the absolutely STUPID, fear filled talking points so that they do not need to be played again and again like an insipid, boring worn out record:

    1. Guns don’t kill people. . . people kill people= “right” so let’s just arm ourselves and kill all the people!

    2. The Second Amendment says= The Second Amendment actually says “a WELL REGULATED militia.” The 2008 Supreme Court decision at 5 to 4 was hardly unanimous. That decision includes these words from CONSERVATIVE Scalia:

    On pp. 54 and 55, the majority opinion, written by conservative bastion Justice Antonin Scalia, states: “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited…”. It is “…not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”

    “Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

    “We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. Miller (an earlier case) said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those “in common use at the time”. We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.’ ”

    The court even recognizes a long-standing judicial precedent “…to consider… prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons.”

    3. “They” want to take ALL our guns away= NO. . . “They” just want reasonable gun safety laws to be implemented and strongly enforced on a national level so that guns cannot be easily bought in one state and transported to another= A ban on assault weapons, a thorough background check/restrictions on those unsuited to own guns, limits/tracking of weapons and ammunition so that private/internet/gun show sales are regulated.

    4. Cars, knives, baseball bats can kill too= Too STUPID for a retort, except that cars are generally more regulated than guns!

    5. The NRA received less campaign contributions (AKA legal bribes) that other organizations= So what, it’s all complete corruption of our government at every level. Campaign reform is very badly needed. Still 2 wrongs don’t make a right!

    6. We are America and have nothing to learn from the experience of other countries= Yeah, that kind of arrogance will get us nowhere, except showing our lack of evolution as a civilized country! Why should we bother to learn from others or from history.

    7. If we armed every man woman and child, we would be safer= Completely illogical and STUPID. . . not shown by any experience or statistics. . . in fact, just the opposite is proven. . . but, that is in other countries. . . and we don’t need their advice= Arrogant beyond all reason and just plain STUPID!

    I’m sure there are many other ridiculous “talking points” to try and defend the Idiocy of continuing to allow thousands innocent people to be gunned down simply to protect the gun slinger’s right to do so. . . have at it! But, please don’t expect me to pay any attention to such despicable, horrific excuses for crimes against humanity!

  2. r&r says:

    Chicago has gun control and they lead the country in murders by guns. When gun controls are put n the citizens turn them in and the bad guys don’t. The citizens need them for protection. This is another Obama tactic to disarm the US so his musilim brothers can take it over.

  3. Retiredlawenforcemnt says:

    Wow a POLITICAL PARTY attempting to force its will on an elected government. For a minute I thought this was Soviet Russia circa 1935 then I remembered its America 2016.

  4. DRedder says:

    Silly Demonrats, why are they always trying to disarm the good people. Evil doers, Terrorist, Drug Dealers, Robbers, and other Criminals won’t abide by any restrictions. THE GOVERMENT IS THE PROBLEM AND NEEDS CONTROLS, NOT THE TAXPAYERS.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Just being on a list put together of political enemies of “government’ should NOT nullify ones Constitutionally secured rights. How does one get on this list? How do you get yourself of this list? What ever happened to due process? Im sure everyone is in favor of keeping criminals the mentally ill and islamists from getting weapons but not by taking away the rights of all law abiding citizens in the process. One should first be convicted of a crime before loosing constitutionally secured rights. Also why do the anti constitutional gun nut left always leave out the most important line in the 2nd that being – the RIGHT of the PEOPLE to keep and bear arms shall NOT be infringed.???

  6. Sherry says:

    Geez. . . Please do try and actually educate yourselves . . . the definition of “infringe”, from Websters, does not imply complete immunity from lawful REGULATION!

    Infringe: “to WRONGLY limit or restrict”

  7. michael murphy says:

    Sherry you left out a whole part of the 2nd Amendment but that’s what Liberals do they use only the part that suits them. “TRUMP 2016”

  8. Just me says:

    @ sherry I relive it those who are Pro-constitution understand what the meaning of infringe means. when the ultimate law of this once great Republic says the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed it means just that. Yes we have made true military weapons all but impossible for the average person to own and that is an infringmeant on the constitution. one must understand that when it was written individuals DID own guns as good and BETTER then the arms used by any military in the world. So they did intend for a citizen to be able to own them back then or today. I do agree with –“We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. Miller (an earlier case) said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those “in common use at the time”. We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.’ ”– BUT that is in reference to things such as R.P.Gs, bazookas, high explosives and the like not the common hand held arms. So” lawfull” regulation is only that that is lawfull under the constitution and what most on the left want is NEITHER.

  9. Sherry says:

    Not to confused anyone with actual facts. . . Please note the Republican controlled Congress, who is vehemently obstructing gun safety regulations, currently has an over 75% DISAPPROVAL rating:!

    So those who believe “government” (AKA Congress) is obstructing the will of the people. . . you are absolutely correct!

    BTW. . . President Obama’s APPROVAL rating is over 50% :

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