Florida House votes down motion to take up assault weapons ban

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Less than a week after a gunman used a semiautomatic rifle to kill 17 people at a Broward County high school, the Florida House on Tuesday turned down an attempt to take up a bill designed to prevent the sale and possession of “assault” weapons.

The bill (HB 219) was filed in October but has not been heard in House committees.

Rep. Kionne McGhee, D-Miami, used an unusual procedural move Tuesday to try to pull the bill out of committee and hear it on the House floor. He said the move stemmed from the shooting last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, a massacre that has refueled a national debate about gun control.

The House did not debate the merits of the bill because McGhee’s motion involved a procedural issue. But the House voted 71-36 to reject taking up the measure on the floor. Among the House members voting no were four First Coast lawmakers: Rep. Jay Fant, R-Jacksonville, Rep. Jason Fischer, R-Jacksonville, and Rep. Cindy Stevenson, R-St. Augustine, and Rep. Clay Yarborough, R-Jacksonville.

Nikolas Cruz, who was arrested in last Wednesday’s Parkland murders, is accused of using an AR-15 rifle, a type of weapon that would be covered under the bill.

A Senate version of the bill (SB 196), filed by Sen. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, also has not been heard in committees.

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