Assault rifle ban proposal falls flat in Hillsborough commission meeting

- The debate over banning assault weapons in Hillsborough County ended before it even began.

Commissioner Les Miller's proposal received no support from other commissioners.

But they did take some action that could lead to tighter restrictions on gun sales.

"I'm not trying to take away your right to have a handgun, a shotgun or a rifle," Miller explained in the meeting.

He didn't have to debate his proposed ban on assault weapons sales in Hillsborough County because the motion was met with silence. And, to Miller, that silence spoke as loudly as any argument he might have received.

His proposal comes three weeks after a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County. Despite commissioners’ silence, some residents spoke in support of his plan.

South Tampa resident Gary Dolgin says his children were friends with one of the students who died at Stoneman Douglas.

“Enough is enough with our schools being unsafe for our children to go to,” Dolgin told commissioners. “My daughter received text messages as the shooting was going on from her friends at the school, as they were hiding from the shooter. So this hits close to home.”

Prior to the vote, commissioners listened to supporters and opponents of Miller's motion.

“Don't blame the inanimate object. It's what's in people's heart,” Phil Walters said.

“We just want common sense controls to stop these things from happening,” Jackie Clemons-Pliskin said.

A ban on assault-weapons sales might not have stood up in court. State law bars local governments from enacting such restrictions. And Governor Scott could have punished Miller by removing him from office.

“I'm not worried about anything. If the governor wants to remove me, that's his right,” Miller said.

Another one of Miller's ideas did pass. The county will look at lengthening the waiting period to buy a gun - from three to five days, which state law does allow.

At least one father was relieved.

“[I am] obviously discouraged that they did not vote to pass the ban on assault weapons but there was progress that was made today,” Miller said.

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