Gov. Scott, Fla. Legislature Unveil Gun Safety Proposals In Response To Mass School Shooting

Feb 23, 2018

Speaking during a news conference, Governor Rick Scott unveiled his gun safety proposal.
Credit Governor Rick Scott's twitter

Governor Rick Scott as well as the Florida House and Senate leadership have unveiled their gun safety proposals, in response to last week’s mass school shooting. They include some differences and some similarities.

Governor Scott’s gun safety proposal has several key points. For example, an at-risk person who has a mental illness who was involuntarily committed must surrender all firearms and must wait 60 days before petitioning a court to regain that right. It also raises the age for a person to buy a gun.

“We will require all individuals purchasing firearms to be 21 or older,” he said, during a news conference.” “There will be exceptions for active duty and reserve military and spouses, National Guard members, and law enforcement. Next, we will prohibit a person from possessing or purchasing a firearm if they are subject to an injunction for protection against stalking, cyberstalking, dating violence, repeat violence, sexual violence, or domestic violence.”

Given what’s been going on around the state where kids have been threatening schools via social media, Scott’s plan hopes to address that. And, he wants ban bump stocks. Used in past mass shootings, bump stocks are add-ons that can allow a semi-automatic weapon to fire like an automatic weapon with the pull of a single trigger.

“We will establish enhanced criminal penalties for threats to schools, like social media threats of shootings or bombings,” he added. “We will also enhance penalties if any person possesses or purchases a gun after they have been deemed by state law to not have access to a gun. And, we will completely ban the purchase or sale of bump stocks.”

Scott’s plan also calls for metal detectors, bullet proof glass, and steel doors for Florida schools.

Similar to the Florida legislature, Scott’s proposal includes about half a $1 billion toward mental health funding initiatives and aims to enhance school safety.

“Today, I am calling for a mandatory law enforcement officer in every public school,” he continued. “These law enforcement officers must either be sworn sheriff’s deputies or police officers and be present during all hours students are on campus. The size of the campus should be a factor in determining staffing levels by the county sheriff’s office, and I am proposing at least one law enforcement officer for every 1,000 students. This must be implemented by the start of the 2018 school year.”

But, one main area of difference between lawmakers and the Governor is arming teachers. Governor Scott says he’s against it.

“I disagree with arming teachers,” he stated. “My focus is on bringing in law enforcement. I think you need to have individuals that are well-trained.”

But, House Speaker Richard Corcoran says the House and Senate proposal will include a provision that allows certain teachers to carry firearms on school grounds.

“What it includes is the most robust first of its kind of any of the 50 states system where we say if you are a licensed law enforcement officer who has been trained and has the credential hours to be a law enforcement officer and you’re a certified teacher, yes, that person—who was dually hired as a teacher from the superintendent and a law enforcement officer from the Sheriff, then yes, they can carry guns as a school resource officer can in the school system,” said Corcoran, during a separate news conference. “It’s the first of its kind, and it is the absolutely—in my opinion—the game changer in this legislation.”

Still, some gun control advocates say enhancing background checks and an assault weapons ban needs to happen. But, Senate President Joe Negron says when it comes to the ban, they can only do what’s allowed in law.

“I think there’s a delicate balance, and even in difficult times, we have to follow the Constitution,” said Negron. “We have to show fidelity to the Constitution. It’s my view that a proposal that would have outlawed a particular type of weapon would fall into the area of being an unconstitutional taking from law abiding citizens and would not directly address the underlying causes.”

But, Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D-Orlando) is not buying it, citing a court case.

“After 21 first graders were murdered in their first grade classroom, the Connecticut Legislature stepped up, and they banned assault weapons,” he said. “Who sued? Well, the gun lobby sued. Every single court that took up that case upheld the constitutionality of an assault weapons ban. So, this idea that we are violating the Second Amendment by making sure that every day civilians don’t have access to weapons of mass destruction, which is what military style weapons are is absurd. This what people are demanding.”

Still, in the Connecticut case, the court did say the “AR-15” is protected under the Second Amendment.

Meanwhile, according to the agenda calendar, the Senate could soon take up its gun safety proposals as soon as Monday.