Florida Lawmakers Pass Gun Safety Bill Three Weeks After High School Massacre

Florida legislators pass bill making it tougher to buy guns but easier to arm school staff

A controversial part of the new law is known as the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, which arms some teachers if both the local school district and local sheriff's department agree. "It's nowhere near the long-term solution", said Chris Grady, a senior at Stoneman Douglas High.

Scott says while the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act isn't ideal, it meets numerous requirements that he urged legislators to include in a school safety package: increasing law enforcement at schools and hardening facilities, providing more funding for mental health services, providing a mechanism to keep guns out of the hands of individuals with mental health issues, and tightening gun laws.

Scott and family members of the victims at Parkland defend the law.

And Wednesday night, when the US women's national soccer team beat England 1-0 to win the SheBelieves Cup tournament in Orlando, Florida, the match was preceded by a moment of silence for Douglas soccer player and shooting victim Alyssa Alhadeff.

Republican Rep. Jay Fant said raising the minimum age to buy a rifle from 18 to 21 was unconstitutional, and he voted no.

"Will this bill make a huge investment and dramatically improve school safety, in the hopes of never seeing another tragedy like this again?"

Scott said he has asked lawmakers to redirect the $67 million set aside for the program - named in honor of the football coach who died protecting students - to instead be used to hire more officers. "I believe he'll sign it today".

Friday's bill signing comes exactly two weeks after Scott and legislative leaders proposed separate, but similar, school safety packages.

Survivors of the Parkland, Florida shooting and many of their supporters rallied at the high school on February 21 to protest a lack of gun legislation.

She and critics decried the lack of an assault weapons ban in the bill, though supporters noted that most school shootings in the USA are committed with handguns.

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Scott said he is still "not persuaded" about the guardian program under which participating districts can authorize staff members to carry handguns if they complete law enforcement training.

It would create new mental health programs for schools and establish an anonymous tip line where students and others could report threats. And it gives law enforcement officials the ability to seek court orders to seize weapons from people who pose a danger to themselves or others.

The NRA opposes raising age limits to buy weapons or imposing new waiting periods. In a statement Thursday, NRA and Unified Sportsmen of Florida lobbyist Marion Hammer called the bill "a display of bullying and coercion" that would violate Second Amendment rights and punish law-abiding citizens.

Scott signed the bill despite his opposition to creation of a program that allows school personnel to carry concealed weapons on campus.

Though the bill didn't go far enough for some Florida Democrats, it does mark a major shift for gun legislation in Tallahassee, where the GOP-controlled "legislature nearly never allows any bill that appears to hinder gun owners to come up for a vote", The New Yorker recently reported.

In the end, we had many pro-gun rights Republican members bucking the NRA and voting for the bill saying that, you know, they don't care about the primary.

At least one person called from inside the school.

The measure will automatically become law within 15 days unless vetoed by Scott, who said on Wednesday prior to the vote that he had not yet decided whether to support the bill.

Sen. Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican and one of the main sponsors of the legislation, says he expects Scott will sign it.

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