Saturday, June 23, 2018

Pinellas School Board votes 6-1 to support ban on assault weapons

LARGO — The Pinellas County School Board entered the ongoing debate over guns and schools Tuesday night, voting 6-1 to support a ban on assault weapons.

Long-time board member Linda Lerner introduced the motion, with board member Carol Cook casting the dissenting vote.

The vote came after board members expressed support for Gov. Rick Scott's $500 million plan to boost school safety and mental health. The one-sentence resolution also encourages other school boards in Florida and around the country to take a similar stand. An email will be sent to the leaders of other school boards.

"Let's in Pinellas County be the first ones," Lerner said before the vote. "This is not about courage, it's about leadership."

Lerner had told her fellow board members at a workshop last week that she would be bringing up the motion Tuesday. That same day, the Florida House voted overwhelmingly not to hold a debate on whether to ban assault weapons.

That prompted Cook to vote against the board's resolution. She said she worried that the motion could interfere with the board's hopes of Scott's proposal becoming a reality.

"I'm trying not to burn any more bridges that we have in order to get the governor's proposal to be included as much as we can without punitive measures coming," Cook said. She asked that the board hold off on the vote "so we're not shutting off any lines of communication."

Other board members disagreed, saying that they could support Gov. Scott's proposal and a ban on assault weapons at the same time.

"I think we can do both," board chairwoman Rene Flowers said. "We still can move forward with showing our strength and support."

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