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Lacking support, there won't be a Florida legislative special session on gun violence

The call for a special session on gun violence did not achieve the necessary 60% of support from state legislators, according to the Secretary of State's office.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — An attempt Florida Democrats made to hold a legislative special session on gun violence has failed.  

Earlier this week, Florida Democrats called for a special session to revise Florida's gun laws.

Citing mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas; Buffalo, New York; and Parkland, Florida; a letter from state Rep. Joseph Geller, D-Aventura, to Secretary of State Cord Byrd argued there will be continued violence without concrete action taken over weapons.

"We should address these issues with legislation regulating high capacity rifle magazines, mandating universal background checks, and expanding red flag laws," Geller wrote.

Those were the three key measures on their agenda they wished to tackle: expanding red flag laws, requiring universal background checks, and regulating high-capacity magazines.

After enough Democrats petitioned, the Secretary of State's office sent out a poll to all of the state's legislators to allow them to vote on whether to have a special session. They had until Friday at 3 p.m. to vote, and the poll did not achieve the necessary 60 percent "yes" votes in order for the special session to be held.

Republican Sen. Joe Gruters told 10 Tampa Bay on Wednesday that he planned to vote no, if at all. He said a special session is unnecessary and a "political stunt" by Democrats. 

"Florida has been very proactive across the board for school safety and common-sense legislation as it relates to guns and gun safety," said Gruters, citing the gun laws the Florida Legislature enacted following the Parkland massacre, which included raising the age to purchase a gun to 21 and banning bump stocks. 

"If some of these laws existed in Texas, that tragedy that occurred there may not have happened," Gruters added. 

According to Gifford's Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which analyzes gun legislation, Florida is in the "middle of the pack" in terms of strict gun laws, ranking 24th nationally.

Nearly all Democrats supported holding a special session, including State Sen. Darryl Rouson who represents parts of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. 

"We have to do something. The people are screaming for solutions," Rouson said. "By coming together in a special session, we can take care of this critical issue once and for all." 

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