Written by Jeremy Ring,
Last night, the Florida Legislature passed the “Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act.”
The bill was passed in defiance of the National Rifle Association and, if Governor Scott signs it, it will be the first successful gun control measure in Florida in more than 20 years.
Here’s what you should know about the bill:
– It raises the minimum age for all gun purchases to 21 from 18;
– It creates a waiting period for prospective gun buyers — three days, or until a background check is completed, whichever is longer;
– It bans bump stocks;
– It allocates millions of dollars to make buildings more secure and to hire more school-based police officers;
– It provides state funding for Florida school districts to provide mental health care services to students; and
– It provides the police the authority to temporarily confiscate guns from anyone subject to involuntary psychiatric evaluation under Florida’s Baker Act;
– It prohibits gun sales to Floridians who were committed to mental institutions or deemed mentally incompetent by a judge and would allow the police — with judicial approval — to bar a person deemed dangerous from owning guns for up to a year.
Although this bill includes many strong policy provisions, unfortunately, it also includes a so-called “guardian” plan under which certain employees — including counselors, coaches and librarians, but not full-time classroom teachers — could be trained and armed. While this is a watered-down version of the original idea, it is still something that should never have made it into the final legislation. More guns in our schools are not the solution, they are the problem.
While the bill doesn’t include a semi-automatic assault rifle ban and includes the deeply misguided “guardian” plan, it does something that we haven’t seen the legislature do in a very long time — move policy forward. This is a positive first step, but it’s only a down payment on the progress our schools, our community, and our kids deserve. This isn’t the end of this debate, this is only the beginning.