Editorial: Florida Senate values guns over kids

Published March 5
Updated March 5

By a single vote, the Florida Senate on Monday approved a sweeping response to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas massacre that includes too little gun control and too much emphasis on transforming schools into armed fortresses. Republicans altered an unpopular plan to arm teachers to allow personnel such as principals, counselors and librarians — but not most teachers — to secretly carry guns. That is window dressing for what remains a dangerous plan to put more guns on campuses. Only law enforcement officers should carry guns in schools. The legislation has positive provisions such as raising the age to buy all guns to 21, more spending for mental health and added school security. Yet Douglas High survivors and families of the 17 victims — and most voters — do not want to arm teachers. They want to ban the sale of semiautomatic assault rifles and large magazines. The Senate placed guns above kids Saturday, rejecting a ban by a 20-17 vote (see roll call, below). The bill goes today to the House, which has refused to even debate a ban. Tell legislators they aren’t listening to Floridians.

As Sen. Gary Farmer, D-Fort Lauderdale, noted Monday, Democrats tried compromise after compromise and Republicans rejected every significant attempt to improve the legislation. The Republicans’ arguments for arming school personnel and blocking bans on the sale of semiautomatic assault rifles would be comical if the stakes weren’t so high:

• Asked Saturday whether the legislation would allow local sheriffs to arm school personnel with AR-15 assault rifles, Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, said that would be up to individual sheriffs. Really?

• Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, opposed a ban on the sale of assault rifles by invoking Adolf Hitler, Fidel Castro and North Korea. So AR-15 assault rifles will be a deterrent to a nuclear attack?

• Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, claimed banning the sale of assault rifles would be similar to banning fertilizer because it was used in the Oklahoma City bombing or banning pressure cookers because they were used in the Boston Marathon bombing. Never mind that fertilizer and pressure cookers have legitimate, legal uses while the purpose of assault rifles is to kill people.

The Senate voted Saturday 20-17 to defeat a proposed ban on the sale of assault rifles, then immediately held a moment of silence to honor the Douglas High students and personnel who were killed by a shooter firing an AR-15 assault rifle. That says it all.

Tampa Bay senators


Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg

(850) 487-5024 • [email protected]

Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa

(850) 487-5020 • [email protected]

Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby

(850) 487-5010 • [email protected]


Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg

(850) 487-5019 • [email protected]


Dana Young, R-Tampa

(850) 487-5018 • [email protected]

Young was present during Saturday’s session but skipped the roll call vote and later entered a "no" vote in the record.

The rest of Florida


Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala

(850) 487-5012 • [email protected]

Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach

(850) 487-5004 • [email protected]

Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers

(850) 487-5027 • [email protected]

Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island

(850) 487-5005 • [email protected]

Doug Broxson, R-Gulf Breeze

(850) 487-5001 • [email protected]

George Gainer, R-Panama City

(850) 487-5002 • [email protected]

Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton

(850) 487-5021 • [email protected]

Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring

(850) 487-5026 • [email protected]

Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange

(850) 487-5014 • [email protected]

Travis Hutson, R-Palm Coast

(850) 487-5007 • [email protected]

Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach

(850) 487-5017 • [email protected]

Joe Negron, R-Stuart

(850) 487-5025 • [email protected]

Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples

(850) 487-5028 • [email protected]

Keith Perry, R-Gainesville

(850) 487-5008 • [email protected]

David Simmons, R-Longwood

(850) 487-5009 • [email protected]

Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland

(850) 487-5022 • [email protected]

Greg Steube, R-Sarasota

(850) 487-5023 • [email protected]


Lauren Book, D-Plantation

(850) 487-5032 • [email protected]

Randolph Bracy, D-Ocoee

(850) 487-5011 • [email protected]

Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens

(850) 487-5035 • [email protected]

Daphne Campbell, D-North Miami Beach

(850) 487-5038 • [email protected]

Gary Farmer, D-Fort Lauderdale

(850) 487-5034 • [email protected]

Anitere Flores, R-Miami

(850) 487-5039 • [email protected]

Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah

(850) 487-5036 • [email protected]

Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville

(850) 487-5006 • [email protected]

Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee

(850) 487-5003 • [email protected]

Bobby Powell, D-West Palm Beach

(850) 487-5030 • [email protected]

Kevin Rader, D-Delray Beach

(850) 487-5029 • [email protected]

Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami

(850) 487-5037 • [email protected]

Linda Stewart, D-Orlando

(850) 487-5013 • [email protected]

Annette Taddeo, D-Miami

(850) 487-5040 • [email protected]

Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale

(850) 487-5033 • [email protected]

Victor Torres, D-Orlando

(850) 487-5015 • [email protected]