There Was No Overturned Assault Weapons Ban in Florida on Saturday

Alessandra Mondolfi holds a sign against AR-15 weapons as she yells, "No More" during a protest against guns on the steps of the Broward County Federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018. Nikolas Cruz, a former student, is charged with killing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

On Saturday, the Florida Senate voted against adding an amendment to SB 7026 which would’ve added an assault weapons ban to the bill meant to fund millions of dollars into school safety programs and mental health services. However, it’s what happened before the official vote that has some who don’t read past a headline in a tizzy.

Some took to social media to say the “turnover” of the approval to a reject vote by the Senate proves the power of the gun lobby, i.e. the bogeyman du jour of the National Rifle Association.

What actually happened requires one to actually read further and learn a bit about how the state’s Senate works. The Florida Senate first held a voice-vote on the assault weapons ban amendment, where it initially and unofficially passed. However, per Senate rules, a voice-vote can be challenged and an actual roll call vote is held. That is what happened here.

And what did we find out? That the vote was close, but not that close.

The assault weapons ban amendment — which it should be noted, never would’ve passed Florida’s House of Representatives — was rejected 20 – 18.

It never passed a formal vote.

The voice vote, in this case, was a waste of time. Voice votes are useful when an amendment will likely have few supporters or detractors. But when a topic as contentious as an assault weapons ban in the wake of Parkland is being considered, it simply adds to the emotion surrounding the issue.

It has the added effect of giving gun control advocates a line to use when discussing the issue with those who don’t know what actually happened, to say the Florida Senate almost passed an assault weapons ban, but then the gun lobby got ahold of Republicans beholden to their cash and in-kind donations to change their vote.

Just add this one to the litany of other untrue talking points supporters of the Second Amendment will be forced to correct ad nauseum.