CNN's Brooke Baldwin interviews Rep. Matt Caldwell and Sen. Kevin Rader, right, on the Florida House's vote not to debate a ban on assault rifles. Caldwell joined other Republicans in voting no. Screenshot from CNN
CNN's Brooke Baldwin interviews Rep. Matt Caldwell and Sen. Kevin Rader, right, on the Florida House's vote not to debate a ban on assault rifles. Caldwell joined other Republicans in voting no. Screenshot from CNN

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were in audience in Tallahassee on Tuesday, Feb. 20, to see a bill banning assault rifles like the one that killed 17 of their classmates and teachers on Valentine's Day be solidly voted down in a vote that was mostly along party lines.

The procedural vote that would have allowed House Bill 219 to move to the House floor was soundly defeated, 71-36, with Republicans voting no and Democrats voting yes. That includes the four representatives most closely associated with Lee County, all of them Republicans – Rep. Ray Rodrigues, R-76 which covers Sanibel and Captiva; Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-79; Rep. Dane Eagle, R-77; and Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen, R-78.

Except for Caldwell, the local lawmakers have been quiet in the wake of the vote. Not so Caldwell. He appeared on CNN Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 21, in a searing interview with CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin. This came on the same day the Republican-controlled House declared pornography to be a public health crisis.

Rep. Caldwell, why is pornography a bigger health risk than semi-automatic weapons in the hands of a deranged individual?” Baldwin asked him. Caldwell twice avoided the question.

Listen, I believe — we shouldn’t have weapons in the hands of deranged individuals,” Caldwell told CNN, before alluding to concerns he has that the process used by Democratic lawmakers to try and reopen debate about an assault weapons ban was a departure from precedent.

Baldwin went after the North Fort Myers lawmaker.

Stop going back to your talking points sir, stop,” she said. “I don’t think these people are asking for their guns to be taken away, they are asking for you to consider a conversation — a consideration of a ban of a weapon used in war, instead of having it in the hands of a deranged individuals which we have witnessed in so many shootings in this country. Why won’t you have that conversation?”

Caldwell said that he “had that conversation with the Parkland students today, we’re going to have that conversation in committee through the process that we use for every bill that we’ve ever passed through the House and off the floor. We’re not going to circumvent that process for any bill.”

Caldwell appeared on CNN along with Sen. Kevin J. Rader, D-29 which includes parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties near Parkland, where the mass murder occurred. Rader was staunchly in favor of taking the automatic weapons bill to the House floor. He was quick to criticize Caldwell and the rest of the Republicans.

HB 219, which would ban assault weapons, was introduced by Rep. Carlos Guillermo, D-Orlando. It, like thousands of other bills, was never scheduled for a hearing. But in the wake of the Parkland tragedy, Democrats attempted to fast-track it. Tuesday's vote was not on the bill itself. A yes vote called for the bill to be removed from committees and go to the House floor for debate. A note vote was against that.