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Florida's fate of firearms with bipartisan Senate deal

Gun reform
Posted at 6:21 PM, Jun 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-13 19:24:23-04

FLORIDA  — Sunday, 20 U.S. Senators including 10-republicans are putting up a plan to try to stop gun violence across the United States.

Sunday's framework could be a major step if it reaches 60 votes and passes the Senate. But how much of an impact would this have in Florida?

While Florida does have two Republican senators, a governor, and Republican control of the legislature, the state already has some of the policies the U.S. Senate is starting to look at.

New Restrictions in Florida on the sale of firearms started after the killing of 17-people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland four years ago.

"I don’t think we are going to see much of anything happen here in the state of Florida," said Dr. David Thomas, a forensic science professor at Florida Gulfcoast University. "After the Parkland shooting Florida made some sweeping changes.”

Those changes in Florida already raised the minimum age to purchase firearms from 18 to 21 - unless that person is in law enforcement, corrections, or in the military. Florida also has red flag laws, which are both parts of the framework the 20 Senators agreed to Sunday.

“Let’s say law enforcement is called to my house and I am having some sort of mental breakdown, law enforcement determines I am a danger to myself or danger to somebody else, the way that bill is set up, allows law enforcement to take that gun from that person," Dr. Thomas said. "There are two parts. One is the prevention of purchasing, the other is being able to remove firearms from people’s homes. Here in the state of Florida, because of the red flag laws, over eight thousand people have lost their firearms."

Less than a month after the Parkland Killings, Senator and former Florida Governor Rick Scott (R-FL) signed legislation to raise the minimum age and the red flag laws back in 2018, despite plenty of resistance from gun rights groups.

“We are kind of ahead of everybody else only because we were pretty progressive in our thinking after Parkland," Dr. Thomas said.

Neither Senator Scott nor Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) is part of the 20-senators.

Last Thursday Sen. Scott wrote on Twitter about Florida's new laws after Parkland and about a plan to use excess federal money for COVID-19 for school safety.

Before the announcement of the gun control deal, on Saturday Sen. Rubio tweeted, "My bipartisan proposal that would actually help stop mass shootings should have passed when I offered it over 4 years ago."

He added that he is pleased it's now getting worked on in the Senate.

There is some math and time pressure still at play to get this through. In a 50/50 Senate, 10 Republican votes added with all 50 on the Democratic side, would equal 60 votes. That will be enough to pass. However, time could be an issue as Congress will break for recess in two weeks.

This deal is not a bill and has not been written into the text.