Florida senators unveil gun violence restraining order legislation

Florida senators unveil gun violence restraining order legislation
© Greg Nash

Florida Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump escalates fight with NY Times The Hill's Morning Report - Can Bernie recapture 2016 magic? Venezuela puts spotlight on Rubio MORE (R) and Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William Nelson2020 party politics in Puerto Rico There is no winning without Latinos as part of your coalition Dem 2020 candidates court Puerto Rico as long nomination contest looms MORE (D) have proposed new legislation that would motivate states to create gun violence restraining orders following the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting.

"Today we're here to announce our intention to file legislation to encourage states ... [to] enact their own gun violence protection orders," Rubio said on Wednesday

The legislation, according to Rubio, would use grants to incentivize states to enact legislation that would allow law enforcement or family members to get a court order to block an individual deemed dangerous from getting a gun. 
 
Five states currently have such laws, known as "red flag" legislation, already on the books. More than a dozen states, including Florida, are considering similar proposals. 
 
"We believe that by incentivizing the states to do this we are creating the possibility ...[for] hopefully every state has a mechanism available," Rubio said. 
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The bills have been in the spotlight since the Florida shooting in which 17 people were killed. Law enforcement officials have acknowledged they mishandled tips about the suspected shooter, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz. 
 

Wednesday's bill is one of six Rubio said last week that he would either introduce or support after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

Rubio has come under criticism for his position on guns since the shooting, including during an emotionally charged CNN town hall where he fielded questions from classmates and family members of the victims. 
 
Nelson praised Rubio on Wednesday while also appearing to take a veiled shot at President TrumpDonald John TrumpJustice Department preparing for Mueller report as soon as next week: reports Smollett lawyers declare 'Empire' star innocent Pelosi asks members to support resolution against emergency declaration MORE and Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), who were invited to the same CNN town hall but did not attend.
 
"I am very grateful that he is willing to take this step which I think in light of what had happened at the CNN town hall was very courageous on his part to go. Others did not go after being invited," he said. 
 
Scott is widely expected to challenge Nelson for the Florida seat in this year's midterm election. 
 
Despite a flurry of legislation introduced after the Florida shooting, the debate has largely stalemated in the Senate, with no sign of votes being brought up in the immediate future. 
 
Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats National emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win House Judiciary Dems seek answers over Trump's national emergency declaration MORE (D-N.Y.) said this week that Democrats would try to force floor action after a March 24 rally. With the Senate heading out of town for two weeks on March 23, that would push any tactics into April. 
 
Republicans have also balked over Trump's push to go broader, including "powerful" background checks and raising the minimum age to buy a rifle from 18 to 21. 
 
Nelson said on Wednesday that his bill with Rubio is a "step in the right direction" but indicated he ultimately wants Congress to go further. 
 
"Ultimately I think that the solution to the problem is universal background checks and the removal of assault weapons off of our streets. But this is a good step in the right direction and we've got to be practical," he said.