Florida House debates school safety bill

Monday, 05 Mar, 2018

Democratic lawmakers attempted to put the gun restriction into a bill, SB 7026, that would invest money in mental health and school safety programs.

One of those bills, Senate Bill 33, has been sitting on the House calendar all week, waiting for up to 19 amendments to be debated such as banning bump stocks and assault-style rifles, eliminating carry permits and allowing guns on state property.

These points of criticism set the stage for the Senate's eight-hour floor session on Saturday.

Kansas lawmakers in the Senate are expected to debate a bill next week that would take guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.

Democrats spent the rare Saturday floor session trying to amend the sweeping bill, hurriedly crafted by Republican leaders in response to the February 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 14 students and three faculty members dead.

Reaction was swift. Stoneman Douglas student Jackie Corin, who organized 100 of her fellow students to come to Tallahassee earlier in the week, tweeted: "The Florida Senate has rejected the ban of AR-15s, the weapon of choice used at my school to kill 17 souls". But the most contentious part of the bill would allow teachers to carry concealed weapons on school grounds if they complete a law enforcement training program. Several speakers spoke in favor of the assault weapons ban, including Parkland resident Amber Hersh.

Democrat Senator Kevin Rader, who is Jewish and represents Parkland, called the analogy "absolutely unfair" and said he supported the ban on sales of AR-15s. And it requires district school boards to formulate and prescribe policies and procedures for active shooter situations, according to the bill's description.

Rep. Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne, said initially in committee the church language was explained simply as parishioners who want the option of self-protection when attending worship services.

Gov. Rick Scott is among critics - including the PTA, the union representing teachers, and many parents and students from Parkland's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High - who oppose the proposition. Despite two Republicans joining their Ddemocratic colleagues, the 20-17 vote closed the door on the proposed ban, at least for now.

Legislation discussed Saturday included millions of dollars on mental health and school safety. "I would ask us to begin reflecting on their lives and the bravery that was shown on that day". "I don't believe in arming the teachers", Scott said.

Two out of three adults in the United States want stricter gun laws, CBS found in a poll conducted a week after the tragedy.

The measure is meant to respond to the February 14 Parkland shootings but is firmly opposed by the gun lobby because it raises the age from 18 to 21 to buy any gun and imposes a three-day waiting period on all gun purchases.