UPDATE — 3/9, 9:31 p.m. EST: Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation Friday, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, that will raise the minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21 in the state of Florida, as well as fund programs that arm primary and secondary education employees, and improve mental health and safety measures at public schools.
Following the bill’s enactment, the NRA filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Florida, citing the second and 14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
“This bill punishes law-abiding gun owners for the criminal acts of a deranged individual,” said NRA executive Chris Cox. “Securing our schools and protecting the constitutional rights of Americans are not mutually exclusive.”
In response to the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., last month, Florida’s state Senate narrowly approved legislation Monday that would place restrictions on the sale of rifles and a measure permitting some school officials to carry arms.
The bill passed 20–18 after intense debate and included a rare Saturday session to deliberate in the wake of the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. Nineteen-year-old Nikolas Cruz, an adult with a history of mental illness, has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
Welcoming the bill’s passage as a decisive turn in the fight against gun crime, the measure’s co-sponsor Sen. Bill Galvano, (R-Bradenton), said:
“This bill will make a difference now. When it becomes law, things will start changing.”
Under the provisions of the new anti-gun package, the age to purchase all firearms in the state was raised from 18 to 21; the bill bans the purchase and possession of bump stocks; and sets a mandatory three-day waiting period for all gun sales.
The new bill also sets aside $400 million for mental health services. In the amendment, funds are to be distributed to enhance mobile crisis teams, school safety programs, and purchase metal detectors and bullet-proof glass for schools, and pay for additional school resource officers.
Despite the sweeping reform package, lawmakers voted down a statewide ban on assault weapons and limits on high-capacity magazines.
The motion passed after contentious debate over an amendment allowing classroom teachers to be armed.
Under the amended Senate bill, teachers would not be armed if a school district becomes involved in a new “school marshal” program, under which Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) instructors, former military personnel or police officers employed by a school are licensed to carry arms.
Should a school district enroll in this “opt-in” program, in addition to JROTC instructors, former police officers or ex-military, only non-instructional school employees, such as custodians, school administrators, librarians or counselors, would be permitted to carry a firearm.
In related news, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed legislation Monday outlawing the possession of firearms for state residents who have been convicted of domestic abuse or have a restraining order.
[Tampa Bay Times] [AP] [Sun Sentinel] [CNN] [Photo courtesy Reuters/Jonathan Drake via PBS]