Florida Senate to vote on school safety bill that excludes ban on assault rifles


The Florida Senate will vote on a school safety bill Monday.

Senators hammered out the legislation during a rare special session in Tallahassee over the weekend.

The push for school safety and gun control measures comes in the wake of the Parkland mass shooting, in which 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day

>> On WFTV.com: Trump says arming teachers in schools 'up to states'

The Senate spent nearly eight hours Saturday debating dozens of amendments to the 100-page bill before finally approving the legislation for a final vote on Monday.

Democratic proposals to ban assault rifles and large-capacity magazines were rejected, as was a Democratic proposal to strip language from the bill that would create a program to arm teachers who have gone through law-enforcement training if school districts choose to take part in the so-called marshal plan.

>> On WFTV.com: Police advocacy group says it opposes arming teachers

It was clear that senators were divided on the bill, and not just on party lines. While crafted by Republicans, some GOP senators still opposed it because they don't agree with raising the minimum age to buy a rifle from 18 to 21 or requiring a waiting period to buy the weapons.

Democrats believe the legislation doesn't go far enough in some ways and goes too far in others. And while some oppose the bill, others believe it's at least a first step toward gun safety.

>> Company working on bulletproof doors in wake of school shootings

Democrats want to ban weapons such as the AR-15 assault-style rifle, which was used in the Parkland attack. Many also oppose arming teachers. The bill also includes provisions to boost school security, establish new mental health programs in schools, and improve communication between schools, law enforcement and state agencies.

Jeff Xavier, a survivor of the Pulse attack, was hoping the legislation would include a ban on assault rifles.

>> Walmart raising age to buy guns to 21 after Florida high school shooting

“I think that, as Americans, we do have a right to arm ourselves, however, I do not believe that high-powered, high-velocity (guns) should be available to the general public,” said Xavier.

But much of the debate Saturday revolved around gun control and whether people should have a right to own an assault rifle.

"Every constitutional right that we hold dear has a limitation," said Democratic Sen. Gary Farmer. "These are just military-style killing machines and the right of self-defense and the ability to hunt will go on."

Republicans argued that banning such weapons would violate the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

>> Florida school shooting: How difficult is it to purchase a gun in Florida?

"Our founding fathers weren't talking about hunting, and they weren't talking about protecting themselves from the thief down the street who might break in," said Republican Sen. David Simmons. Simmons said people need guns to protect themselves from a tyrannical government.

"Adolf Hitler confiscated all the weapons – took all the weapons, had a registry of everybody – and then on the night of June 30th, 1934, sent out his secret police and murdered all of his political opponents," Simmons said. "You think it doesn't happen in a free society? It does."

>> Read more trending news 

The Legislature wraps up its annual session on Friday. Lawmakers are scrambling to take some kind of action before then. The full House has yet to take up its version of the bill.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott has been lobbying lawmakers to pass his plan to assign at least one law-enforcement officer for every 1,000 students at a school. Scott is opposed to arming teachers.


Reader Comments


Next Up in Nation World

Officer: Books ‘just as vital as Narcan’ for first responders
Officer: Books ‘just as vital as Narcan’ for first responders

It’s hard to know what impact a traumatic event can have on a child, but Jana Gruber has learned a small gift can make a big difference. Gruber is the founder of Books to the Rescue, a Greene County nonprofit organization that is providing children’s books, games and stuffed animals for dozens of police cruisers, fire engines and life squads...
Gap store at The Greene closing
Gap store at The Greene closing

The Gap store at The Greene Town Center is closing. Gap Inc. previously announced that up to 200 of its namesake stores could close after poor earnings reports. An employee at the Beavercreek location confirmed Saturday the store is having a going-out-of-business sale and will close, but did not have a closure date and referred all other questions...
Dayton probe leads to more than 80 pounds of drugs, 2 arrests
Dayton probe leads to more than 80 pounds of drugs, 2 arrests

Two men are facing a minimum of 10 years in prison and up to a $10 million fine after they were caught with more than 80 pounds of drugs on Tuesday, according to a criminal complaint. Michael Nailen, 53, and Marco Gonzalez, 47, are accused of possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine. Both are being held by the United...
Florida mother disappears day after Thanksgiving, community rallies to find her
Florida mother disappears day after Thanksgiving, community rallies to find her

Family members of a mother say she disappeared the day after Thanksgiving and was never heard from again.  >> Read more trending news  Tiffany Wells, 35, has two young children and had just started working at the ULTA in the St. Johns Town Center Action News Jax obtained a missing person’s report that says Tiffany Wells never...
More than 2,000 Springfield area kids will get donated gifts this year
More than 2,000 Springfield area kids will get donated gifts this year

More than 2,000 kids will be getting gifts this Christmas thanks to the generosity of the Springfield community and the work of the Springfield Salvation Army and its volunteers. About 300 volunteers were labeling and preparing gifts with the goal to hand out the gifts Thursday, said Development Director of the Springfield Salvation Army Ryan Ray....
More Stories