Late Saturday, gun owners in scored a legislative victory at the state level, defeating a measure to ban the sale of AR-15 rifles in the state of Florida.
Initially, it looked as if the measure passed on a voice vote in the Florida stat senate, but a roll call vote showed it being narrowly defeated.
The AR-15 was the gun used to kill 17 in the Parkland school shooting, prompting a call from some to ban the particular model, arguing it is too effective in mass shooting situations. Gun rights supporters argue the AR-15 is no more dangerous than any other long gun, but is unfairly targeted because it looks like a military-style weapon.
The Florida state senate briefly approved a two-year freeze on the sale of AR-15 rifles on Saturday, before overturning the measure 15 minutes after the initial vote.
The vote to pass the bill came on an unrecorded voice vote, in which lawmakers shouted ‘yea’ or ‘nay’.
Senate President Joe Negron, a Republican, ruled that the amendment passed on the voice vote, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
The measure then failed 21-17 on a recorded vote minutes later.
The no votes were all cast by Republicans, while two Republicans joined 15 Democrats on the yea votes.
The surprise vote came on an amendment to bill SB 7026, which would inject millions of dollars into mental health and school safety programs, as well as impose new limits on gun access for the first time in three decades in Florida.
Lawmakers debated the bill passionately on a rare weekend session, just weeks after the massacre that left 17 dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
Senator David Simmons, a Republican who opposes the ban, defended the need for civilians in a constitutional republic to keep and bear arms.
‘Our founding fathers weren’t talking about hunting, and they weren’t talking about protecting themselves from the thief down the street who might break in,’ he said, adding that citizens need guns to protect themselves from a tyrannical government.
Simmons cited Adolph Hitler’s seizure of guns from German citizens as an example of the potential negative consequences of gun control measures.
Democrat Senator Kevin Rader, who is Jewish and represents Parkland, called the analogy ‘absolutely unfair’ and said he supported the ban on sales of AR-15s.
He recalled the evening he spent with parents waiting for victims to be identified.