The Florida House of Representatives rejected a ban on assault rifles Tuesday morning, voting 19-11 along party lines to quash the legislation.
The move followed a similar vote in the Florida Senate, where state lawmakers struck down a ban on assault rifles Monday evening in front of hundreds of protesters and gun control activists gathered in a Senate committee room.
Gun control advocates sit in a hallway outside a Senate committee room watching lawmakers debate gun bills on a TV. Police aren’t letting any more people into the packed room. Earlier, the protesters joined Democrats at a press conference calling for an assault weapons ban. pic.twitter.com/cjGcJy1f96
— Jessica Bakeman (@jessicabakeman) February 26, 2018
State lawmakers had held hearings earlier in the day on a series of proposals that would arm teachers with weapons, make it easier to take into custody people suspected of mental illness, and implement a three-day waiting period to purchase guns, as well as a proposal that would infuse mental health programs in schools with additional funding.
An assault weapons ban was not included in the package of gun ownership restrictions, despite the fact that it was one of the explicit demands of the 1,200 demonstrators marching on the Florida Capitol for a “Rally in Tally” Monday afternoon.
The Senate Rules Committee initially took up an amendment to the gun regulations package that would have added a ban on assault rifles, but that amendment was defeated by the Republican majority. Only one Republican state senator crossed the aisle to vote in favor of an assault rifle ban. After the amendment was voted down, the committee room erupted with shouts of “vote them out” from protesters.
The crowd did not appreciate the FL Senate Rules Cmte voting down an assault weapons ban amendment pic.twitter.com/k5OiB0wvTC
— Daniel Ducassi (@dducassi) February 26, 2018
The failed proposal comes two weeks after a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 people dead. Many of the teen survivors of that shooting were in attendance at the state capitol building this week and said the move was hardly surprising.
“We’ve been heard by other people, but the people here who make the laws aren’t really listening,” said Agu Felman, a junior at Stoneman Douglas.
In one particularly powerful moment, Stoneman Douglas senior Tyra Hemans confronted Florida Senate President Joe Negron, hoping to force him to address her concerns. “Look me in the eyes and tell me right now that because of guns, I can’t walk into an airport because I’m scared of being shot,” she said. “I can’t walk my hallway because I am always reminded of the AR-15 military rifle assault weapon shooting my classmates.”
The Florida Senate is expected to hold a final vote later this week on a piece of legislation that would allow people with concealed weapons to carry them in churches and on school grounds during school hours. A vote on the bill was originally scheduled for the week of the Parkland shooting, but was postponed when student activists flooded the Capitol.
State lawmakers were also scheduled to consider a bill allowing individuals to obtain concealed carry permits without passing a background check one day after the Parkland shooting. The measure was tucked into an agriculture bill spearheaded by Commissioner of Agriculture and Florida gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam, a Republican. The controversial provision would require the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services — the state agency that monitors gun purchases — to issue concealed carry firearm licenses to people within 90 days of their application, even if their background checks are incomplete.
While current law requires an individual to provide a complete background check and wait however long is necessary, the new bill would set a time limit and then allow the agency to revoke a person’s permit if disqualifying information turned up later.
The bill has been placed on the calendar for a vote in the coming weeks.