Weeks after the Florida school massacre that left 17 people dead, many Americans were absolutely outraged and called for the immediate need for stricter gun laws. Well the Florida House of Representatives just made a step in the right direction by passing a new bill that will hopefully spark a bigger change.
Reported by TIME, earlier this week the Florida House passed a new school safety bill that raises the gun buying age in Florida to 21. This is of course in response to the Parkland school massacre, but also due to the protests that followed after the shooting led by students.
The Florida House passed a school safety bill Wednesday that includes new restrictions on rifle sales and a program to arm some teachers, sending the measure to the governor for his signature. The vote of 67-50 reflected a mix of Republicans and Democrats in support and opposition. The measure, a response to the shootings at a Parkland high school that left 17 dead, is supported by the victims’ families.
Democratic Rep. Kristin Jacobs said she did not like the idea of arming teachers, but she voted yes. Republican Rep. Jay Fant said raising the minimum age to buy a rifle from 18 to 21 was unconstitutional, and he voted no. “There is a cultural divide in this room, in this state and across the country. And there’s a bill before us that is not perfect,” said Democratic Rep. Kristin Jacobs, whose district includes Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
The bill would raise the minimum age to buy rifles from 18 to 21 and create a waiting period on sales of the weapons. It would also create a so-called guardian program that would let school employees and many teachers carry handguns if they go through law enforcement training and if the school district decides to participate in the program. Other provisions would create new mental health programs for schools; establish an anonymous tip line where students and others could report threats to schools, ban bump stocks and improve communication between schools, law enforcement and state agencies.
Although the bill passed, Florida Governor Rick Scott has declined to publicly say whether or not he would sign the legislation.
Scott has stressed that he doesn’t support arming teachers and pushed lawmakers to adopt his proposal, which called for at least one law enforcement officer in every school and one for every thousand students who attend a school. “I’m going to take the time and I’m going to read the bill and I’m going to talk to families,” Scott told the press.
This is a step in the right direction, however one can’t help but think that it’s not enough and a lot more needs to be done to produce lasting change.
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