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Florida Senate bans AR-15 in rare weekend session — what happened next shocked everyone

The Florida Senate temporarily approved a two-year moratorium on the sale of AR-15s in the state on Saturday —\n then reversed the decision 15 minutes later. (KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

The Florida Senate on Saturday debated the merits of increased gun control measures and how to move forward legislatively after the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14.

The emotion-filled day even included a brief ban on the AR-15, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

What happened?

In the rare Saturday session, which included hours of debates and votes on numerous legislative amendments addressing firearm issues, the chamber temporarily approved a two-year ban on the purchase of AR-15 rifles in the Sunshine State.

The moment of drama came during an unrecorded voice vote where Florida senators shouted "yea" or "nay." Florida Senate President Joe Negron, a Republican, afterward ruled the measure had been approved. But per chamber rules, the approval could be challenged — and that's exactly what happened.

Republicans, who generally oppose most firearm restrictions, later reconsidered the measure and held a roll call vote on it, which struck down the two-year ban. According to the Times, just 15 minutes had passed between the time the measure was initially approved to the time it was reconsidered and struck down.

The vote on the measure was 21-17, with two Republicans joining the Democrats.

What else happened?

During the marathon session, Republican rejected nearly four dozen Democratic amendments to the "Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act," the Florida assembly's legislative response to the tragic shooting.

From the Times:

The legislation will be accompanied by an unprecedented infusion of cash into the school system to address mental health issues. The $400 million package includes $18.3 million for mobile crisis teams working with the Department of Children and Families and the schools; $500,000 for mental health first aid training; and $69 million for mental health assistance to school districts.

According to the Times, some of the rejected amendments included proposals to ban all "assault weapons," to the creation of a gun registry for all firearms in the state of Florida to bans on high capacity magazines.

Two of the more popular Democratic amendments, the proposal to ban all "assault weapons" and a proposal to remove a measure that would allow school districts to arm teachers, were narrowly rejected, despite some Republican support.

However, many popular firearm restrictions were included in the bill, including a bump stock ban, a measure to raise the purchase age for rifles and shotguns and even a measure extending waiting periods on for some background checks.

The bill is expected to be approved by the Florida Senate on Monday. From there, lawmakers hope the Florida House approves it and sends it to Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) before the legislative session ends on March 9.

One last thing…
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