Florida Lawmakers Strike Down Motion to Hear Bill That Bans Assault Rifles

Following last week's mass shooting that killed 17 people, lawmakers in Florida on Tuesday struck down efforts to move forward a ban on assault rifles.

The Florida House voted down Democratic Representative Kionne McGhee's motion to hear the bill on banning assault rifles in a 71-36 vote. McGhee proposed moving the bill out of committee, as it was not scheduled for a hearing in the current legislative session.

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where the shooting took place, were watching in the gallery at the time of the vote, and some were visibly shaken by the news.

AP photo of school shooting survivors watching Florida lawmakers vote down a bill to ban assault weapons https://t.co/fxYxXSBoRA pic.twitter.com/3K6N1jepGX

— Jon Passantino (@passantino) February 20, 2018

"It never ceases to amaze me when the same political leaders who control our state government & budget send thoughts & prayers when they could change policy with the stroke of a pen in mins," McGhee wrote in a tweet on Thursday.

State lawmakers did, however, support a proposal to enhance security at schools in Florida, including putting law enforcement offices in all schools, the Associated Press reported.

BREAKING: In wake of school shooting, Florida legislators vote down attempt to revive bill to ban assault rifles. pic.twitter.com/agjBAP1CXI

— Miami Herald (@MiamiHerald) February 20, 2018

The motion comes less than a week after a gunman killed 17 people at the high in Parkland, Florida. The gunman used an AR-15, a semiautomatic weapon he bought legally.

Assault weapons are not currently banned in the United States—a 1994 federal ban expired in 2004. In 2013, Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, tried to revive the movement in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting with a new bill that had 24 co-sponsors in 2013, but it did not get enough votes.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday added to the gun debate by recommending in a memo that bump stocks, devices that turn semi-automatic weapons into assault weapons by increasing their firing speed, be banned. In Las Vegas, the gunman who killed 58 people and injured hundreds at a concert in October used a bump stock to make his rifle fire faster.

Trump signed a memo on Tuesday with the recommendation that Attorney General Jeff Sessions propose the regulations to declare the modifications illegal.

"Although I desire swift and decisive action, I remain committed to the rule of law and to the procedures the law prescribes," he wrote.