Florida senators unveil gun violence restraining order legislation

Florida senators unveil gun violence restraining order legislation
© Greg Nash

Florida Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioThese Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Lawmakers press Biden admin to send more military aid to Ukraine I'm furious about Democrats taking the blame — it's time to fight back MORE (R) and Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonOvernight Energy & Environment — Earth records its hottest years ever Global temperatures in past seven years hottest ever observed, new data show NASA welcomes chief scientist, senior climate adviser in new dual role 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. 
 
Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenators introduce bill aimed at protecting Ukrainian civilians Kyrsten Sinema's courage, Washington hypocrisy and the politics of rage Hillicon Valley: Amazon's Alabama union fight — take two MORE (R-S.C.) are working on a federal "red flag" law, though Rubio appeared skeptical on Wednesday that it would be able to get the votes to pass. 

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 TrumpJudge rules Alaska governor unlawfully fired lawyer who criticized Trump Giuliani led fake electors plot: CNN Giuliani associate sentenced to a year in prison in campaign finance case 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 SchumerChuck SchumerDemocrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Predictions of disaster for Democrats aren't guarantees of midterm failure Voting rights and Senate wrongs 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.