Politics & Government

Florida Democrats’ gun-control effort fails

Democrats' attempt to force a vote on new gun restrictions officially failed Friday after enough Republicans in the state Legislature blocked the effort.

Without support from the governor or House and Senate leaders, it would have taken a three-fifths majority of both chambers of the Legislature to call state lawmakers back to Tallahassee. But 54 members of the Florida House -- more than two-fifths -- declared they're not interested in a special session.

It's now mathematically impossible.

"Those of us who certified the need for a special session still think it was needed to respond to an emergency and to represent our constituents’ wishes," House Democratic Leader Mark Pafford of West Palm Beach said in a statement.

Just 111 of the 160 state lawmakers had registered their votes with Secretary of State Ken Detzner by Friday night. For the most part, the vote fell along party lines with Republicans opposing the special session and Democrats favoring it. This gave Republicans, who hold strong majorities in both the House and Senate, an obvious advantage.

Three lawmakers broke party ranks.

Among them was Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, who is running for reelection in a new district that favors Democrats. Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, who also faces a tough reelection bid but who has blocked proposals like open carry of weapons, had not voted Friday.

Two House Democrats, Reps. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda of Tallahassee and Katie Edwards of Plantation, voted against the special session alongside the Republicans.

Thirteen senators and 33 House members voted in favor of the special session. Eleven senators and 54 House members voted against it.

The calls for a special session followed the mass killing of 49 people at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, on its Latin night last month. Democrats wanted to enact so-called "no fly, no buy" provisions similar to those that have failed in Congress to deny firearms to people on federal terrorism watch lists.

House Speaker-designate Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, last week called the Democrats' effort "irrational, irresponsible and unstatesmanlike and said it was "being done solely for political purposes."

"Whenever politics is your sole purpose, the people lose," he said.