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Watch it: House rejects weapon ban.

House rejects amendments to ban assault weapons, close gun show loophole and impose universal background checks during a day-long debate on gun regulations and school safety.

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The Florida House spent nearly seven hours Tuesday debating a four-point school safety plan. 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 Another 41 amendments were withdrawn from consideration.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 puts guns in the hands of school employees, Rep. Jared Moskowitz, D-Coral Springs, put his colleagues on notice.

"By the time we are through everyone will know where everyone stands on the marshal program," he said.

As students from Florida State and Florida A&M University 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 to close a loophole proposed by the Senate 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 Stoneman Douglas graduate. “But I also want to do the right thing.”

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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.

Rep. Elizabeth Porter, R-Lake City, 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.”

Opponents get to take one last shot at the bill when it comes up for a final vote, as soon as Wednesday.

Contact James Call at jcall@tallahassee.com. 

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