Florida lawmakers have approved a bill that would implement major gun-control measures in the state for the first time in 22 years.
The measure passed in Florida’s Republican-controlled House on Wednesday, just days after the legislation also passed in the state Senate. Now, it’s up to Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, to decide if the bill becomes law.
The legislation was introduced in the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, which left 17 people dead. It was the third mass shooting Florida has seen since 2016.
Specifically, the bill bans bump stocks — a gun accessory that increases the rate of fire — and raises the legal minimum age to buy a rifle from 18 to 21, the Miami Herald reported. It also imposes a three-day waiting period on most firearm purchases, gives police more authority to confiscate guns and creates a program that would allow some teachers to be armed in the classroom.
Scott said he will review the bill and speak with family members of those killed in the Parkland shooting before deciding whether or not to sign the bill.
“I’m going to take the time to read the bill,” Scott said, according to USA Today. “I have been clear. I don’t believe we should be arming teachers.”
The legislation was passed in the House by a 67-50 vote, in large part thanks to Republicans, the majority of whom supported it.
“This is not an infringement upon your right to bear arms, this is a judgment call about how old you should be before you can exercise that right,” said Rep. Jose Oliva, a Republican who sponsored the legislation.
On the other hand, most Democrats in the legislative body voted against the bill, arguing that it doesn’t go far enough.
“It’s the patchwork of laws in this state that have been handwritten by the NRA that make us less safe, and we haven’t even made a dent in those laws,” said Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, a Democrat who represents Orlando.
Still, 10 Democrats did end up voting in favor of the bill.
“I can’t walk out these doors and think I did nothing,” said Rep. Joe Geller, D-Aventura. “I cannot look myself in the eye in the mirror and think I missed the chance to prevent one of these mass shooting situations.”
Outside of the Florida legislature, the bill has been the subject of much debate. Some parents of Parkland victims — like Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was killed in the shooting — were glad the legislation was passed.
“My precious daughter Meadow’s life was taken, and there’s nothing I can do to change that,” Pollack said. “But make no mistake, I’m a father and I’m on a mission.’’
But educators and some teachers’ unions are opposed to the plan.
“The Leon Classroom Teachers Association does not want anyone in the schools with a weapon who is not a sworn law enforcement officer,” said LCTA President Scott Mazur. “There’s good and bad in this bill. I guess it comes down to morals.”
In addition to the gun-control measures, the legislation also allocated almost “$400 million toward mental health counseling, hiring more school resource officers, adding metal detectors and bullet-resistant windows in schools and increasing child welfare investigators,” according to the Herald.
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