The last legislative session in Tallahassee, Florida came to an end without any major gun rights legislation being passed. Gun control activists have claimed a minor victory, as many expected having to fight to limit any expansion for second amendment rights.
That said, it is clear that the issue of gun rights in Florida is anything but settled.
It may be, of course, that both sides of the issue decided that this year was not the time to re-hash the old arguments about the compromise between freedom and safety, given recent events. It is, after all, still less than a year ago that the Pulse nightclub shooting rocked the state, and the nation, with 49 dead.
Groups campaigning for more gun control in Florida, some of whom were active before the nightclub shooting, welcome the fact that no movement has been made on the issue this session.
The NRA, for their part, are predictably down on this celebration. There are a number of bills waiting to be heard in the state, some of which will potentially expand gun rights significantly. Though some lawmakers tried to pass these bills in this legislative session, they did not even reach committee stage. Those behind the new laws are vowing that they will bring them back, again and again, until they pass.
The proposed laws would allow guns in airports, on college campuses, in government meetings, and allow those with concealed carry licenses to begin open carrying.
It must be pointed out, however, that blocking gun rights legislation is not the same as passing gun control laws, and so perhaps neither side should be claiming victory. Rather, it seems that both sides in Florida have merely argued themselves into a quagmire where no progress can be made.
In this context, it is worth noting that bills proposed by Democrats in the state – including the recurring idea to ban assualt-style weapons – did not pass either.
The Pulse nightclub shooting has certainly energised the gun rights debate in Florida, with groups on both sides more vociferous in their demands since last year. Democrats, for instance, proposed a law that would have banned the sales of guns to those on the FBI’s terror watch list or the federal no fly list – the shooter at the nightclub, Omar Mateen, was on the former list. This bill failed, however, due to the Republican majority in Florida.
Democrats remain upbeat about these bills, hoping that in comoing years afforts to sensibly control guns in Florida can be passed through bipartisan agreement.
For my part, I agree. It is certainly a strange situation to find activists celebrating a total lack of movement on this issue. Surely it is possible, even in the aftermath of a tragedy such as the Pulse nightclub shooting, to defuse the righteous tone of the debate on both sides?
Banning those on the FBI terror list from buying guns seems to me to be a sensible measure, and as long as it is not used to sneak further gun control through legislatures, I support it.