Lawmakers quickly passed new gun restrictions last year in the wake of the Parkland high school shootings that left 17 dead, but the debate about guns is far from over as the Legislature begins its 60-day session on Tuesday.
In the weeks leading up to the session, about 50-gun related bills were filed: from a Republican-sponsored repeal of gun restrictions enacted after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre to a Democrat-sponsored bills to ban assault rifles.
But the GOP-controlled Legislature is unlikely to embrace extremes on either side of the gun issue; changes to the state's gun laws will likely be somewhere in between. Republican Rep. Mike Hill understands the atmosphere, which is why he pulled his bill to repeal provisions of the last year's school safety act that raised the minimum age to buy a rifle to 21 and created a waiting period to purchase the weapons.
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"It became obvious to me that the tragedy of that shooting was a wound that is still too raw to try to pull that Band-Aid off of at this time. The bill wasn't getting traction," Hill said.
"I am always going to be a staunch supporter of our Second Amendment rights, and there could be a time in the future when my bill, or something similar too it, can be reintroduced."
One bill that is moving forward is an expansion of a new law that allows some teachers to carry guns in schools if they go through training with their local sheriff's department and pass background and psychological tests. The bill would allow all teachers to be eligible for the program. Current law only makes teachers with roles outside the classroom eligible, such as a teacher who is also an athletic coach or oversees a drama club.
Still, Democrats aren't giving up on new gun restrictions. Most, or all, are unlikely to pass. While the Republican-dominated Legislature made rare concessions last year after the Parkland shootings, most are sticking to the pro-gun rights agenda for which the party is known.
Democratic Rep. Richard Stark realizes new restrictions like the assault rifle ban will be a tough sell.
"I don't think that has a chance of going anywhere," Stark said. "The gun lobby is just too strong on that."
Instead, he's seeking some tweaks to the school safety act that he thinks could earn some Republican support. That includes expanding the so-called red flag provision that allows law enforcement to get court orders to take guns away from people seen to be a threat to themselves and others.
He wants family members and roommates to also be able to petition courts in the same situations. The bill would also prohibit someone from keeping a gun at home if that person lives with someone whose access to guns has been taken away, unless the gun is locked up, dismantled, or has a trigger lock.
"I'm not trying to take away gun rights," he said. "We're just trying to have more safety in the streets and in the homes."
Here's a look at other gun bills being considered in 2019 on both sides of the political aisle:
Republican sponsored bills would:
— Allow concealed weapon permit-holders to carry guns on college campuses.
— Allow private and religious schools to authorize people to carry guns on campus.
— Allow doctors and paramedics to carry guns while responding with law enforcement teams to dangerous situations like sniper attacks, active shooter situations, and hostage standoffs. It would give them the same immunities and privileges as law enforcement officers.
— Exempt law enforcement officers from gun-purchase waiting periods.
Democratic sponsored bills would:
— Ban large capacity magazines.
— Require all sales or transfers of firearms to be conducted through a licensed dealer and subject to a background check.
— Make it illegal for minors to post photos of themselves holding guns on social media.
— Create a task force to make recommendations on reducing urban gun violence.
— Extend a ban on felon gun possession to people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence and hate crimes.
— Ban nonmetal guns made from 3D printed instructions.
— Make it illegal to fire a gun on private property if the bullet crosses property lines.
— Reduce the number of years a concealed weapon permit is valid from seven to four.
— Add performing arts centers to the list of places where guns are prohibited.