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Florida Lawmakers Pass Stricter Gun Control Measures

Photo courtesy of ABC News.

Summary: Florida lawmakers passed a new gun law that would allow some teachers to carry firearms in school.

In response to the tragic school shooting in Parkland, the Florida House passed legislation on Wednesday that would allow some teachers and staff to carry guns in school. According to CNN, the initiative passed 67-50.

The bill, which will also impose new restrictions on firearm sales, will now go to Florida Governor Rick Scott, who has 15 days to sign it.

Lawmakers passed the measure after the Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. On that day, a former student, Nikolas Cruz, 19, entered the school with an assault rifle, pulled the fire alarm, and shot into the crowd. He murdered 17 students and staff members.

Florida’s new bill is called the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, and it was debated in the GOP-led House and Senate over the course of 10 days.

Governor Scott said that he had some reservations about arming school personnel and instituting a three-day wait period to buy firearms, and he said that he would review the bill “line-by-line” before signing off on it.

“The group that I’m going to be talking to — the groups that I care most about right now because it impacted them so much — is the families,” Scott said to CNN.

The news organization spoke to Ryan Petty, a spokesperson for the families of the Parkland shooter’s 17 victims, and he urged the governor to pass the bill.

“We know that when it comes to preventing future acts of school violence, today’s vote is just the beginning of our journey. We applaud the members of the Florida Legislature that courageously voted against their own political self-interest to do the right thing for the safety of our schools,” Petty said.

The new bill will raise the minimum age to buy guns from 18 to 21, will require a three-day waiting period to buy a firearm, ban the sale or possession of bump fire stocks, and give law enforcement more agency to confiscate weapons from those deemed a threat. The bill will also offer funding for armed school officials and for more mental health services.

One of Scott’s biggest sticking points to the bill is the provision which allows some teachers or staff to be armed, a move that Scott does not agree with.

Teachers whose sole role is to teach will not be allowed to carry guns, but teachers who perform other duties such as coaching will be allowed to have a firearm in school.

Critics of the bill also said that it unfairly forces the burden of keeping schools safe on the school districts.

“Florida legislators have taken the Pontius Pilate approach regarding ensuring our children — our most defenseless — are safe,” Paula D. Wright, Chairman of Duval County School Board said to CNN. “They hurriedly passed an ill-advised and ill-equipped plan to say ‘we have acted, and now we wash our hands and transfer all the burden to school districts and sheriffs.”

What do you think of Florida’s new law? Let us know in the comments below.

Teresa Lo :