It’s official: Democrats’ gun control special session won’t happen

by | Jul 5, 2016

The legislative chambers at the state capitol building in Tallahassee will remain empty this summer, as efforts by Florida Democrats to conduct a special session on the issue of gun control have officially failed.

As The Capitolist reported last week, Democrats had filed a request for the special session after the terrorist attack in Orlando last month for the purpose of “reviewing and revising Florida laws and policies to address the loophole allowing known or suspected terrorists to purchase and own firearms in the state of Florida.” In accordance with Florida statutes, Secretary of State Ken Detzner sent letters to the entire Legislature to poll whether such a special session should be conducted.

Republicans, who have controlling majorities in both chambers, dismissed the proposal as a political stunt that would be unable to result in any effective legislation, since the relevant databases are all controlled by the federal government. The high cost of a special session — likely hundreds of thousands of dollars — was also cited as a reason by several Republican members.

The responses to the Secretary of State’s poll were due at noon on Tuesday, but the effort was mathematically doomed by Friday, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The approval of at least three-fifths of both chambers of the Legislature was needed in order to have the special session, but 54 House members had already voted no by Friday. That was more than two-fifths of the House, making it impossible for the Democrats to prevail.

In total, 13 Senators and 33 House members voted for a special session, and 11 Senators and 54 House members voted no.

Predictably, the vote was mostly along party lines, but there were three who crossed party lines. Rep. Anitere Flores (R-Miami), facing reeelection in a district that leans Democrat, voted for the special session. Reps. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda (D-Tallahassee) and Katie Edwards (D-Plantation) voted with the Republicans.

Photo credit: Mark Goebel via Flickr.

Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.

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