The Florida state Senate passed a sweeping gun control legislation to prevent future school shootings. Last month, 17 people died during an attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
The horrific school shooting prompted a nationwide call for action to prevent gun violence. Last month, student survivors held a rally at the Florida state Capitol demanding stricter gun control legislation. One of the survivors even warned, “We will vote you out,” if lawmakers refused to act.
On Monday, Florida state senators approved Senate Bill 7026, The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act. The legislation addresses the three important issues—firearm safety, mental health, and school safety.
Two weeks ago, Gov. Rick Scott announced a major action plan that focuses on these three important issues to prevent gun violence. He reminded his fellow politicians that they are elected to represent the best inters of Floridians.
Important provisions under the legislation
Under the legislation, individuals purchasing a gun must be 21 years old. There is a three-day waiting period to buy any gun to ensure full and complete background checks. Bump stocks are prohibited.
Additionally, the bill calls for the establishment of a Commission to investigate system failures in the Parkland school shooting and previous incidents of mass violence.
The bill allows a sheriff to establish a Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program. School districts will decide whether to participate in the guardian program if it is available in their county. The guardian program is completely voluntary. It is named after Coach Aaron Feis, who died protecting students during the Parkland school shooting.
A guardian must do the following:
- complete 132 hours comprehensive firearm safety and proficiency training
- pass psychological evaluation
- pass drug tests
- complete certified diversity training
Classroom teachers cannot participate in the guardian program. The limitation does not apply to a teacher of Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program, a current service member; and a current or former law enforcement officer.
Furthermore, the legislation makes it difficult for those suffering from mental illness to purchase or possess a gun. It allows a law enforcement officer or agency to petition a court for a risk protective order to temporarily prevent persons from accessing firearms when they pose significant risk to themselves and others.
The Florida state Senate is listening
In a statement, Sen. Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton) said, “We are listening. The Senate hears you and we are taking the appropriate steps to help ensure that a senseless tragedy like this never happens again.”
On the other hand, Florida state Senate President Joe Negron promised that they “will do everything” in their power to “address the failure of the government” to effectively respond to the numerous warning signs reported about the shooter.
“We can and we will increase the resources available to identify and treat those suffering from mental illness, improve the safety and security of our schools, and ensure those suffering from mental illness do not have access to firearms,” said Sen. Negron.