Editorial: Florida Senate values guns over kids

Published March 5, 2018

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 •

Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa

(850) 487-5020 •

Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby

(850) 487-5010 •


Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg

(850) 487-5019 •


Dana Young, R-Tampa

(850) 487-5018 •

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 •

Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach

(850) 487-5004 •

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Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers

(850) 487-5027 •

Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island

(850) 487-5005 •

Doug Broxson, R-Gulf Breeze

(850) 487-5001 •

George Gainer, R-Panama City

(850) 487-5002 •

Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton

(850) 487-5021 •

Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring

(850) 487-5026 •

Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange

(850) 487-5014 •

Travis Hutson, R-Palm Coast

(850) 487-5007 •

Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach

(850) 487-5017 •

Joe Negron, R-Stuart

(850) 487-5025 •

Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples

(850) 487-5028 •

Keith Perry, R-Gainesville

(850) 487-5008 •

David Simmons, R-Longwood

(850) 487-5009 •

Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland

(850) 487-5022 •

Greg Steube, R-Sarasota

(850) 487-5023 •


Lauren Book, D-Plantation

(850) 487-5032 •

Randolph Bracy, D-Ocoee

(850) 487-5011 •

Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens

(850) 487-5035 •

Daphne Campbell, D-North Miami Beach

(850) 487-5038 •

Gary Farmer, D-Fort Lauderdale

(850) 487-5034 •

Anitere Flores, R-Miami

(850) 487-5039 •

Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah

(850) 487-5036 •

Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville

(850) 487-5006 •

Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee

(850) 487-5003 •

Bobby Powell, D-West Palm Beach

(850) 487-5030 •

Kevin Rader, D-Delray Beach

(850) 487-5029 •

Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami

(850) 487-5037 •

Linda Stewart, D-Orlando

(850) 487-5013 •

Annette Taddeo, D-Miami

(850) 487-5040 •

Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale

(850) 487-5033 •

Victor Torres, D-Orlando

(850) 487-5015 •