Florida Senate votes to advance gun safety bill
Lobbyist work the fourth floor rotunda outside the House and Senate Chambers during the session at the Florida Capital in Tallahassee, Fla., Monday March 5, 2018. Mark Wallheiser/AP

Florida Senate votes to advance gun safety bill

The Florida Senate on Monday voted 20-18 advance a 100-page bill aimed at ramping up gun safety measures in the state, less than a month after a mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school left 17 students and faculty members dead.

In the weeks since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — the deadliest high school shooting in United States history — the teenaged survivors of the massacre have forced lawmakers across the nation to grapple with gun violence with renewed urgency.

The vote to advance the bill comes after the legislative body convened for a rare weekend session on Saturday, where lawmakers fervently debated which provisions would end up in the final language of the Republican-drafted bill.

One amendment proposed by Democrats that would have banned assault weapons in the state was ultimately rejected in a 20-17 vote, with two Republican senators joining the Senate’s 15 Democrats in supporting the provision, according to the Miami Herald.

Among the bill’s other existing proposals are raising the minimum age to buy a rifle or shotgun from 18 to 21, banning the sale of bump stocks, and a provision allocating $400 million in mental health funding to schools.

After news broke that the proposed assault weapons ban had failed, MSDHS student Jaclyn Corin tweeted, “This breaks my heart, but we will NOT let this ruin our movement. This is for the kids.”

Ahead of Monday’s vote, the families of the Parkland victims appeared outside of Marjory Stoneman Douglass H.S. to speak out in favor of the legislation.

“Part of us died that day,” Ilan Alhadeff, the father of 15-year-old Alyssa Alhadeff, who was killed during the February 14 shooting, told reporters. “My daughter was shot in the heart, in the spine and in the femur and the femoral artery. If she lived she would’ve been paralyzed for life... No parent should have to deal with this again.”

“We are fighting for all the kids in America, not just Parkland,” his wife, Lisa Alhadeff, added. “We are fighting for everyone. No kid should have to say to their mother, ‘Mommy, am I going to die today if I go to school?’ Think about it.”

The bill now heads to the Florida House for a vote, where lawmakers hope to ferry it quickly along to the governor’s desk for signature before the legislative session ends on March 9.

On March 24, students across the nation plan to walk out of schools as part of the “March for Our Lives” initiative that aims to keep the pressure on lawmakers to take action on gun control.