Florida Senate approves AR-15 ban, rejects it minutes later

In a rare Saturday session the Florida Senate approved a two-year moratorium on the sale of AR-15 style rifles.  The moratorium was later rejected, the Tampa Bay Times said.

According to the Times:

In an unexpected move by a staunchly pro-gun Legislature, senators briefly approved and then rejected a two-year moratorium on sale of AR-15 assault rifles, the type used in the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

The surprise action came on an unrecorded voice vote in which senators shout yea or nay.

Senate President Joe Negron ruled that the amendment passed. As senators scurried about, it was reconsidered as Senate rules allow and overturned by a roll call vote of 21-17.

All 15 Senate Democrats voted for the ban and were joined by two Republicans — Anitere Flores of Miami and Rene Garcia of Hialeah.

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Jose Javier Rodriguez, a Democrat from Miami, called the rifles, “weapons of war designed to kill efficiently and effectively … and then they’re modified for civilian use by a $17 billion industry.”

According to NPR:

ArmaLite first developed the AR-15 in the late 1950s as a military rifle, but had limited success in selling it. In 1959 the company sold the design to Colt.

In 1963, the U.S. military selected Colt to manufacture the automatic rifle that soon became standard issue for U.S. troops in the Vietnam War. It was known as the M-16.

Armed with that success, Colt ramped up production of a semiautomatic version of the M-16 that it sold to law enforcement and the public, marketed as the AR-15.

When Colt’s patents for the AR-15 expired in the 1970s, other manufacturers began making similar models.

Those gun makers gave the weapons their own names, yet the popularity of the AR-15 turned it into a generic term for all types of AR-15-style rifles.

Some Republicans, however, said a ban on any specific type of weapon was unconstitutional, and the first step toward confiscating guns from law-abiding citizens.

The Sun-Sentinel’s Dan Sweeney live-tweeted the session and noted:

Here’s language of the measure that was eventually voted down:

Upon this act becoming a law, a moratorium is imposed on the sale, delivery, and transfer of all AR-15-style assault rifles and it must remain in effect for a minimum period of 2 years. The Department of Law Enforcement is directed to conduct a study to determine whether banning the AR-style assault rifle should be permanent or whether regulations can sufficiently be implemented to eliminate or significantly reduce the risk of mass shootings posed by the availability of AR-15-style assault rifles. The department shall submit its resulting findings and recommendations to the Governor, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Majority and Minority Leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The moratorium imposed by this section may not be repealed until the Legislature enacts a law that adopts, modifies, or rejects the department’s recommendations.

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