Florida Governor Signs Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS Gun Law That Enrages Both Sides
Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed into law major gun-control measures following last month’s shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
He signed the law Friday after the measure passed in Florida’s Republican-controlled House on Wednesday, just days after the legislation also passed in the state Senate.
The bill is known as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.
Under the half-billion dollar package, schools will be required to have mental health programs.
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 if they are approved by the local school district and sheriff’s department.
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.
According to the Tallahassee Democrat, this was the first gun-control measure signed into law in the past 20 years.
Scott mentioned his reservations about the provision in the law that says that local officials will get to make the final decision on arming some teachers, according to CNN.
“I still think law enforcement officers should be the ones who protect our schools,” he said. “I’ve heard all the arguments for teachers to be armed and, while the bill would significantly change on this topic, I’m still not persuaded. I’m glad, however, the plan is not mandatory, which means it be up to local elected officials.”
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.’’
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