Florida Politics

FL Dems wanted a special session on gun reform. They don’t have the votes.

Students rally at Florida’s Capitol to demand action on gun control, mental health

A week after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland killed 17 people, survivors and hundreds of others descended on Florida's Capitol on Feb. 21, 2018, to demand action on gun control and mental health issues.
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A week after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland killed 17 people, survivors and hundreds of others descended on Florida's Capitol on Feb. 21, 2018, to demand action on gun control and mental health issues.

The effort by House Democrats to hold a special session to address gun reform is effectively dead.

According to numbers released by Secretary of State Laurel Lee Friday night, 56 members of the Florida House of Representatives voted “no” on a poll to hold a special session ahead of this year’s committee weeks, which begin Sept. 16.

The number renders the effort dead, as the state requires 60% of both the House and Senate to approve a special session.

“We are disappointed but not surprised by these results,” said Coral Gables Democrat Javier Fernández, who spearheaded the effort. “Tallahassee needs to be part of the solution ... we will continue to press on this issue until the day meaningful gun reform is passed in Florida.”

As of Friday night, the House had 30 “yes” votes and 56 “no” votes, while Senate had 10 votes for the motion and 16 against. The votes were largely split along party lines, with Democrats supporting the special session. All Miami-Dade Republicans voted “no” on the measure.

Rep. Al Jacquet, a Palm Beach Democrat, was an outlier who voted no on the measure.

Forty state representatives, including Jacquet, sent letters to Lee earlier this week calling for a special session to address a variety of gun-related topics, including universal background checks, safe gun storage, a ban on high-capacity magazines and the creation of a task force in urban areas to address day-to-day gun violence.

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The effort was shut down by Republicans and chamber leadership from the start, who all said they plan to address gun reform during the traditional committees this year.

Samantha J. Gross is a politics and policy reporter for the Miami Herald. Before she moved to the Sunshine State, she covered breaking news at the Boston Globe and the Dallas Morning News.
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