Florida governor expected to sign bill with new gun controls today

Carla Harmon
March 11, 2018

The National Rifle Association filed a lawsuit in federal court Friday seeking to block a Florida law that had just been signed by Gov. Rick Scott, prohibiting gun sales to anyone under the age 21.

The NRA argues people who are 18 years old are considered adults "for nearly all purposes and certainly for the purposes of the exercise of fundamental constitutional rights". The provisions fall short of what newly-energized student activists wanted, but still represent a degree of victory for gun control advocates in a state that has seen few such "victories".

State Representative Jared Moskowitz, who attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, says this legislation reverses a gun-friendly trend. Some Republicans have received phone calls from NRA board members. It requires an extended three-day waiting period for handgun purchases, including long guns, and it bans bump stocks, which convert semi-automatic firearms into automatic ones. Scott and the families say this legislation is a beginning.

In schools, the measure also creates new mental health programs and establishes an anonymous tip line for reporting threats.

"I am going to do what I think are common-sense solutions", the Republican governor said after the signing.

"We have paid a bad price for this progress".

The Florida Legislature, poised to vote on the budget as early as Sunday, March 11, 2018, must NOT pass this proposed budget, and we implore citizens in our state to join us in our call to make public education a priority with meaningful, rather than negligible, increases in student funding.

"We urge you to honour your instincts and act to keep additional firearms from our schools unless they are in the hands of trained law enforcement personnel", Joanne McCall, president of the teachers union, wrote in a letter to the governor of the state.

After Scott came out against arming teachers in schools, state Republican leaders amended the bill to exclude school employees who work exclusively as classroom teachers from being part of the "school marshal" program.

Nikolas Cruz, the accused gunman charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder in the Parkland shooting, was 18 years old when he legally purchased the AR-15 assault-style rifle used in the massacre, according to authorities.

But the governor said Friday he and others had to compromise, acknowledging that the gun regulations went too far for some and not far enough for others.

The Florida bill is a sign that progress may be possible in the unlikeliest of places. "Securing our schools and protecting the constitutional rights of Americans are not mutually exclusive".

Denver Public Schools followed on Thursday, saying it won't pursue NRA grants in the future and will turn down several that were to be awarded this year.

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