The Florida House is hoping to send a message to those in Washington D.C. that they don’t want the government infringing on citizens’ gun rights. They did so through a Memorial passed Wednesday. And, the passage of the Memorial also comes just as a gun control proposal stalled in Congress.
“So, all in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington,” said President Barack Obama at a press conference Wednesday.
Obama spoke following the vote of a bipartisan effort in the U.S. Senate chamber 54-46—just shy of the 6 votes needed to expand federal background checks for gun buyers.
The proposal was mostly in response to the December mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, which sparked a national outcry for more gun control measures.
But, about an hour after the vote in Washington D.C., the Florida House took up a measure that the Republican-led Legislature hoped would send just the opposite message to those in Congress and the President. It’s sponsored by Republican Representative Neil Combee of Polk City.
“As a member of the Florida Legislature, I feel it’s part of my duty to preserve our state’s sovereignty and protect the right of the people of this state to keep and bear arms. This Memorial reminds the President and Congress of their duty to uphold the Constitution and preserve our Second Amendment rights and expresses opposition to any efforts that might infringe upon that right,” said Combee.
But, Wednesday’s vote by the U.S. Senate had some in the Florida House wondering why this Memorial was even coming up for a vote. And, Democratic Representative Jared Moskowitz had that question for the bill sponsor.
"I was just wondering if the Representative was aware that at 4:34 p.m., the bipartisan compromise failed in the Senate, which now makes gun control legislation dead in Washington, and as a result of that, isn’t his Memorial now moot,” asked Moskowitz.
“As a matter of fact, I am aware, and I do recall that Representative Moskowitz in Judiciary said there was no reason to hear this, that it would not be discussed at all. So, he was wrong about that. And, I think for anyone to say that it would not come up again would also be wrong,” replied Combee.
And, that last statement is also shared by the President that “this effort is not over.” As he said in a press conference Wednesday, following the vote,"I see this as just round one."
Meanwhile, back in the Florida House chamber, Republicans were rallying around the Memorial to end talk of gun control, like Representative John Wood of Winter Haven.
“We are talking about liberty," Wood exclaimed to cheers.
"And, let’s let Liberty ring! Let’s make sure that Washington does not bring up these ill-conceived ideas again. Support this good bill," he added as he made the sound and motions of cocking a gun.
The vote was largely along party lines 81 to 36 with six Democrats voting “yes.” Meanwhile, there was a measure relating to guns that they could agree on and it even has the backing of the National Rifle Association, or the NRA. And, that’s a bill sponsored by Democratic Representative Barbara Watson of Miami Gardens.
Her bill aims to close a loophole that allows people who voluntarily commit themselves to a mental health facility to buy a firearm.
“These requirements are restricting those individuals who are becoming an immediate danger to themselves and others and restrict their abilities to be able to purchase firearms,” said Watson.
That bill passed 117-1 with Republican Representative John Tobia as the lone dissenting vote. Meanwhile, its Senate companion has been sailing through committees and has one more stop to go before it heads to the Senate Floor.
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