By a narrow margin, Florida legislators have passed controversial gun safety legislation limiting sales of certain firearms and providing for the arming of some school staff, in the wake of the recent massacre in Parkland.
Senate Bill 7076 passed by a 67-50 vote on Wednesday evening, after over eight hours of debate, and will become law in 15 days unless Governor Rick Scott vetoes it.
The new bill imposes a three-day waiting period for all firearm purchases and raises the minimum age for anyone buying a shotgun or rifle from 18 to 21. It also bans the sale of bump stocks, which are used to convert a semi-automatic gun into an automatic one.
The legislation also establishes the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, named after the school coach who was shot and killed during the massacre, which allows local sheriffs to “appoint certain volunteer school employees as school guardians” who would be required to undergo 132 hours of firearm and safety training. The bill also enforces mandatory mental health and drug screenings in order to qualify.
The program also mandates that any staff who “exclusively perform classroom duties as classroom teachers” are not allowed to take part in the program unless they are Junior Reserve Officers, service members or current or former law enforcement officers.
Further provisions in the bill prohibit anyone deemed mentally incompetent, or previously committed to a mental institution, from owning guns and advocates temporary seizures of guns from people taken into custody by authorities for involuntary mental examinations, citing the Baker Act, Reuters reports.
The bill also allocates $400mn to finance the directives.
Florida Democrats were heavily divided over the bill, arguing that certain provisions allowed armed staff to patrol school grounds and posing a risk to students, the Miami Herald reports. Some black lawmakers advised that it could unfairly target African-American students and personnel, inadvertently identifying them as shooters. Nevertheless, Democrats voted 21-9 in favor of the new legislation.
Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!