Three Weeks After Parkland, Florida Backs Gun Restrictions
Update: Breaking with the National Rifle Association, Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act into law.
After three weeks of hearings, by a bipartisan vote of 67 to 50 the Florida House on Wednesday approved a bill imposing a three-day waiting period for most long-gun purchases, raising the minimum age for purchasing those weapons to 21, and banning the possession or sale of bump stocks, which allow semi-automatic weapons to fire more rapidly.
The vote came after the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that killed 17 people, most of them students.
The legislation, known as SB 7026 or the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, now heads to Gov. Rick Scott’s desk. The Washington Post reports that Scott supported most provisions of the bill but opposed arming teachers. Currently, the bill includes nearly $100 million to improve school security and $67 million to fund a new sheriff program that would allow school districts to voluntarily train and arm employees who pass 132 hours of law enforcement training, a background check and diversity training. The program would not arm employees who teach exclusively, or teacher’s aides.
“I am going to read the bill, and I am going to talk to parents,” Scott told reporters Wednesday. “My goal is that this never happens again to a parent in our state.”
Democratic and some Republican lawmakers in Florida have opposed the provision to arm school staff, which was also present in a previous version of the bill. In the hours before the House vote, several amendments Democrats put forward to remove the provision were voted down. The Miami Herald reports:
Under the amendment, proposed by Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Miami, classroom teachers would not be armed if a school district decides to participate in the so-called ‘school marshal’ program established in response to the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. However, other school personnel, including support staff who provide some instructional work, current or former servicemen or JROTC instructors, would be able to carry firearms.
Regarding arming teachers, NPR’s Greg Allen told “All Things Considered,” “A lot of districts like Miami-Dade and Broward County are not going to take part in it. They say they don’t want to do it. The sheriffs say they don’t want to. But some of the rural counties are already trying it out and I think it will go forward there, but not just with people who are exclusively classroom teachers.”
Here’s the portion of #SB7026 that relates to school safety. ‘Coach #AaronFeis Guardian Program’ does NOT apply to “individuals who exclusively perform duties as classroom teachers.” See exemptions below. @ActionNewsJaxpic.twitter.com/TP7YNkBXP3
— Russell Colburn (@RussellANjax) March 6, 2018
In a letter sent Tuesday, grieving families of the Parkland victims urged Florida lawmakers to approve SB 7026.
“You must act to prevent mass murder from ever occurring again at any school. This issue cannot wait. The moment to pass this bill is now,” the letter reads. “We must be the last families to suffer the loss of a loved one due to a mass shooting at a school.”Your support matters…
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