© 2023 WFSU Public Media
WFSU News · Tallahassee · Panama City · Thomasville
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Thousands of people support students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in a rally for gun control at the Florida capitol (2/21/18).The Florida legislature is poised to pass some of the most sweeping gun control and mental health reforms in more than 20 years. The moves come as lawmakers face pressure from students affected by the Valentine's Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.On Valentine's Day, a 19-year-old in Parkland opened fire on his former classmates at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He killed 14 students, three adults, and injured 14 others. There were warning signs, yet, all, including a tip to the FBI, were missed.That day, school safety measures in place, like school resource officers, restricted access and fencing--all failed.In the wake of the shooting, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas have mobilized, calling on the legislature to take greater action to prevent school and mass shootings. Lawmakers, it seems, are finally listening.https://youtu.be/6PRPEfu7WPg

As State Lawmakers Work Toward Gun Reform, What Are Florida’s U.S. Senators Hoping To Do?

Getty Images

While a lot of eyes are on Tallahassee to see what the state Legislature has in store in terms of gun reforms, Florida’s U.S. Senators are also talking about what they’d like to see Congress do as well.

On the floor of the U.S. Senate Thursday, Florida’s Republican Senator Marco Rubio unveiled his plan he says his will address gun violence, in the wake of last month’s mass school shooting in Parkland.

Similar to what’s included in Governor Rick Scott’s proposal, Rubio too wants to create a new law dealing with gun violence restraining orders.

“Even if law enforcement, school administrators or family members believe that an individual poses the risk of committing an act of violence, they have very few options to prevent them from purchasing any gun or taking the guns away that they already have,” he said. at the time. “Therefore I intend to present a new law, perhaps in coordination with others that are working on it now, that will lead to the creation of Gun Violence Restraining Orders, something that will give law enforcement and close family members the option of obtaining a court order to prevent gun sales or remove guns from individuals who pose a threat.”

He also wants to pass a law called the “Stop School Violence Act” that would provide federal grants to strengthen school security and infrastructure…

“…provide school training for everyone, administrators, teachers, and even students to be able to identify threats, and to report them,” he added. “Something that really would be helpful is the creation of school threat assessment and crisis intervention teams. There is a successful program in Los Angeles that does this. And that is a team that’s a coordination between law enforcement, other state agencies, school districts and the like, where they are all talking to each other about students and former students that may pose a threat of violence and intervene before they act.”

He also wants to allow school districts to have more options to alert authorities to threats as well as make sure prosecutors have the tools they need to go after those who purchase guns illegally.

Rubio says his proposal also includes strengthening background checks and fixing holes in NICS, or the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

“And that’s why I’ve joined with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle pushing for the immediate passage of Fix NICS, something that will require all federal agencies and incentivize every state to fully report relevant information to the national background check database,” he continued. “Because a background check is only as good as the information that is on it. And this deranged killer was able to buy guns on ten separate occasions because he would have passed any background check because none of this stuff known about him was reported to that system.”

Still, during a recent CNN Town Hall meeting, Rubio did promise to reconsider his position on magazine clip sizes and look into increasing the 18-year-old age limit for rifles.

“I absolutely believe that in this country if you are 18 years of age you should not be able to buy a rifle and I will support a law that takes that right away,” Rubio stated last month to applause.

“Remember, in the CNN Town hall meeting, Marco said that he would reconsider banana clips that had more than ten rounds,” said Florida’s U.S. Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, speaking to reporters Friday. “Remember, also, he was talking about raising the age to 21? I don’t think either of those proposals were in Marco’s speech yesterday.”

Calling Rubio a friend, Nelson did not answer whether he thinks the National Rifle Association got to Rubio.

Not invited to President Trump’s bipartisan talks on gun reform policy, Nelson made a trip to Tallahassee as lawmakers continue to work out a solution on the state level.

Both the House and Senate plans include some sort of ban on bump stocks, raises the minimum age to buy any gun from 18 to 21, and could allow law enforcement to seize weapons from those deemed mentally ill and likely pose a threat.

They also include a controversial provision allowing designated teachers to carry firearms on school grounds, if they are deputized and complete law enforcement training.

The Governor’s plan doesn’t include the “arming teachers” provision. But, Nelson says his plan is still weak.

“That’s simply because he’s afraid of the NRA,” he added. “He has an A+ rating. He’s taken $20 million in advertising from the NRA in his two elections, and the common sense solution is universal background checks. He won’t touch that. The common sense solution is to get the assault rifles off the streets, and he won’t touch that.”

Expected to announce a U.S. Senate bid, the term-limited Governor Rick Scott could face off against Nelson in November.

And, as for the legislature, they are expected to vote on gun reform legislation in the coming week, starting off a rare discussion in the Senate on Saturday. But, Nelson says he expects the 2018 legislative session could last until Friday at midnight.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.