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Get the latest coverage of the 2022 Florida legislative session in Tallahassee from our coverage partners and WUSF.

A proposed special session on gun reform failed to get the needed support to move forward

protestors hold signs
Lydell Rawls

During a press conference earlier in the week, House Democratic Leader Evan Jenne called the effort a “Hail Mary.”

A proposed special session on gun reform won't move forward.

Following the recent rash of mass shootings across the country, Florida Democrats pushed for a special session on gun reform measures. A special session is typically called by the governor, but lawmakers can trigger their own meeting of the legislature if at least 60 percent of the legislators in bother chambers agree.

Lawmakers had until 3 p.m. Friday to submit their support for the move. It failed to garner enough support to move forward.

The News Service of Florida reported only 19 Republican lawmakers responded to the poll on holding the session — all of them voted against it. All 57 Democrats who replied supported the idea.

During a press conference earlier in the week, House Democratic Leader Evan Jenne called the effort a “Hail Mary.”

“Even in the face of insurmountable numbers, we still have to try. I’m less concerned with 42 House Dems and 16 Senate Dems. I’m more concerned with 49 dead folks at Pulse. I’m more concerned with dead children at Stoneman and Uvalde," Jenne said.

Jenne was among the lawmakers who supported the push for a special session. He said it would allow stakeholders and decision makers to come together for an open dialog on an important issue.

And he said that includes having open discussions with Republican lawmakers. He said he and his colleagues can’t just assume they know what other lawmakers are thinking.

"We want to hear. We want to talk. We realize that we can’t just talk amongst ourselves. We want to have those open and honest conversations and have those open and honest conversations with experts in the field with them right alongside us. That’s really what we want," Jenne said.

And during a conference call with Florida Democrats before Friday's deadline, St. Petersburg Representative Michele Rayner said she wasn't surprised at Republican opposition to the proposed session.

"The things that we are asking for are not things that are hard, are not things that aren't popular with their own constituents," said Rayner. "And so it's not about the inability to pass these laws or to do a special session. It's the lack of political will that's unfortunately exhibited on the other side of the aisle."

Democrats hoped to use the session to address issues including universal background checks and regulating high-capacity magazines for rifles. They made the request after a rash of mass shootings, include the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

But during a recent press conference in Fort Myers Beach, Governor Ron DeSantis said he sees no need for a special legislative session on gun control. He said the state has already prioritized efforts to improve school safety.

“What we’ve done in this budget is have record funding, continued record funding, for school safety and school security as well as mental health. We’ve done three-quarters of a billion dollars just for school security since 2019. So we took the Stoneman Douglass recommendations and we put those in place in terms of both policy and with resources," DeSantis said.

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Additional information in this report was provided by WUSF's Mark Schreiner.