Florida House near vote on guns, school safety
TALLAHASSEE — The Florida House spent nearly seven hours Tuesday debating a school safety plan that would arm some school employees. The final vote on the proposal could come Wednesday.
The debate covered 37 amendments filed by Democrats. Another 41 amendments were withdrawn from consideration.
Before the House began consideration of a Senate proposal that would create a program allowing guns in the hands of school employees, Democratic Rep. Jared Moskowitz put his colleagues on notice.
“By the time we are through everyone will know where everyone stands on the marshal program,” he said.
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As students from Florida State and Florida A&M universities held a die-in at the Capitol Rotunda to call for stricter gun-control measures, Moskowitz urged the House not to allow more guns in schools. He floated an amendment proposed by the Senate to close a loophole that allows coaches, librarians and extra-curricula advisers to be armed.
“I want to pass a bill. I want to make a difference,” said Moskowitz, a graduate of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, where 17 people were killed in a shooting on Feb. 14. “But I also want to do the right thing.”
The amendment, like many others, failed on a party-line vote.
The bill being considered by the House faces criticism from both sides of the gun-control debate.
Those in favor of stricter measures lament its lack of a ban on semi-automatic weapons, expanded background checks and proposals to close the gun show loophole on background checks and waiting periods.
The National Rifle Association views the proposal as a do-nothing, unnecessary infringement on Second Amendment rights. It alerted its members Monday night to call all House members and urge them to reject the bill.
The bill requires a three-day waiting period to buy a firearm, raises the age to buy a gun to 21 and creates a program to train school personnel to carry concealed weapons. It includes $400 million for school security and mental health programs. In addition, the bill creates a 16-member commission to investigate the Parkland shooting and make recommendations to the Legislature.
Republican Rep. Elizabeth Porter pushed back at critics who say lawmakers should heed the student protesters’ call for an assault-weapons ban.
“We’ve been told that we need to listen to the children and do what the children ask,” Porter said. “Do we allow children to tell us that we should pass a law that says no homework?… No. The adults make the laws.”