Florida’s Senators look for legislative path forward after Parkland shooting

Florida’s Senators look for legislative path forward after Parkland shooting 

Posted: 9:46 pm Wednesday, March 7th, 2018

By Jamie Dupree

While admitting they are at odds on some of the most contentious issues involved with mass shootings, Florida’s U.S. Senators on Wednesday said they are trying hard to find areas of agreement to deal with such violence in the future, in order to get something done.

“I personally have been searching for things that we can do quickly, that we can begin to move on, and to find consensus,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), as he joined Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) to introduce a bill that would help states enact gun violence protective orders, to help law enforcement stop someone who might be a violent threat – before a shooting.

“My position in sponsoring legislation such as this, is that it is a step in the right direction,” said Nelson, who made clear again that he wants to see limits on assault weapons, and action on universal background checks.

But he acknowledged those type of plans are more controversial, and unlikely to get through the Congress.

“This is a good step in the right direction, and we’ve got to be practical,” Nelson added.

The bill from Rubio and Nelson was one of a series of plans unveiled in recent days, as there seems to be a bit more cooperation going on among Senators on the issue of how best to respond to the Parkland, Florida shooting, where 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

For Rubio, Nelson and others, that shooting demonstrated the difficulties that exist in trying to deal with someone who police or family believe may have serious mental health issues which could lead to violence.

“It certainly would have provided an option to whoever it is who called the FBI hotline or the Broward Sheriff’s office, to not just report it, but potentially act,” Rubio said, referring to the multiple warnings that citizens made to law enforcement about the Parkland shooter, who was formally charged on Wednesday with 17 counts of first-degree murder.

Rubio this week also backed the “STOP School Violence Act,” a version of which is expected to be voted on in the House next week, which would also use federal grants to help schools deal with possibly violent incidents.

“This is a good step,” Nelson said of the smaller bills on school safety, “but keep your eyes on the prize.”

For Nelson, that means tougher gun restrictions.

“Ultimately, I think that the solution to the problem is universal background checks, and the removal of assault weapons off of our streets,” Nelson said.

But Nelson said because of the “sway of the NRA, there are certain things that are simply not going to be passed.”

Two hours after his news conference with Rubio, Nelson was at a forum with family members and students from Parkland – but it was an event organized only by Democrats, another reminder that small steps on gun violence may be all that’s achievable in Congress at this point.

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