Gun safety bill stalls in Florida Legislature

(Spencer Platt, 2019 Getty Images)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Two years after the Parkland school shooting, Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered flags to be flown at half-staff as a sign of respect for the victims.

State lawmakers banned so-called bump stocks and raised the minimum age to own a gun in the wake of the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting that killed 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

They also introduced red flag laws to confiscate firearms from certain individuals and created a three-day waiting period for all guns purchased from licensed dealers.

All week in the Capitol, lawmakers have walked past photos of the Parkland victims. But the display seems to have done little inspire support for additional measures controlling access to firearms.

Advocates had high hopes of getting increased background checks this year, but the effort is running into some serious opposition.

The main proposal would require background checks at public venues like gun shows. It would also strengthen laws governing gun storage and introduce new requirements for private sales.

At first, State Sen. Tom Lee, the bill’s sponsor, was optimistic.

“We need four Republican votes would be my guess in the Senate to pass a bill and it would shock me if we don’t have four Republican votes for common sense gun safety,” Lee said last month.

The bill stalled after passing its first committee. And as session reached its midpoint, Senate President Bill Galvano signaled the measure still had many obstacles to overcome.

“It is very clear that it’s an uphill battle," Galvano said. “It’s difficult even within the chamber, but it’s even more difficult across the way.”

Despite the change in tone, Second Amendment groups like the National Rifle Association aren’t letting their guards down.

“Anytime a bill’s sponsor is pessimistic about passage of a massive gun control bill it’s a good thing," former NRA President Marion Hammer said. "But we’re never fooled by rhetoric. We continue to watch, we continue to work and we continue to fight.”

Even if the bill were to pass the Senate, convincing the House and the Governor would likely be a daunting task.