Last Wednesday, our legislature sent a bill to Gov. Rick Scott for approval and Friday he signed that bill into law. So what exactly changes? We have the tl;dr version for you below.
Remind me what was in the bill?
Here are the biggest changes:
- A Floridian would have to be at least 21 years old (instead of 18 years old) to buy a gun from a licensed seller.
- Someone purchasing a gun would have to wait three days from the time they buy it until they take it home.
- The police could report a person who poses a potential threat to others and seize that person’s guns.
- No one in Florida could sell or own bump stocks, the devices that make a semi-automatic gun fire like an automatic weapon.
- The state would budget $400 million for mental health programs and support for school districts.
- About $67 million of that would go to a so-called “marshal” program that would train certain school staff and allow them to have concealed weapons. The program requires both local law enforcement and school districts to opt into it (in other words, it’s not required for all schools to participate in it). School officials in the 10 largest school districts – including Miami-Dade – already said they won’t opt in.
And what doesn’t the bill change?
There’s no ban on assault weapons, one of the key demands of gun control advocates.
How’d we end up with these laws exactly?
Two weeks ago, Gov. Rick Scott and Republican leaders in both the state house and senate proposed similar plans to respond to the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Much of what they proposed is in the bill that was approved last week.
House and Senate committees debated the bill first. And early on, it seemed unlikely that a ban on assault weapons would be successful. (Reminder: That ban did not make it into the final bill).
The bill was approved in both committees, then by the full Senate— after a special Saturday session to address a load of amendments and to move the bill along. And, then, finally it was approved by the House last Wednesday.
What do Parkland students and families think of the changes?
Marjory Stoneman Douglas students and parents rallied at the capitol on the first day of discussion of the gun control bills, and many stuck around through the end of session.
As the legislature continued its debates, Parkland students leading the #NeverAgain movement – a push for gun control reform – focused their attention on an assault weapon ban and removing the “marshal” program from the bill.
Once legislators decided that the “marshal” program would remove most teachers from being armed, the families of all 17 Parkland victims urged lawmakers to approve the bill. Many said it wasn’t perfect but that they wanted to see some kind of progress.
What are the concerns about the “marshal” program?
While classroom teachers won’t be armed under this plan, other personnel and “support staff,” (like custodians, principals, librarians, etc.) could be armed if a school opts into the program. Critics say that introducing more guns into schools won’t prevent another school shooting.
The Tampa Bay Times also reported that across Florida there were at least 19 instances of school support staff members threatening to harm students or other employees. Those same staffers could potentially be eligible for the “marshal” program.
Other concerns? Black lawmakers said there would be an added risk for students of color—especially in lower-income communities. That’s because research shows that students of color are disproportionately disciplined in comparison to their white counterparts.
So what comes next?
It will be up to local governments, school districts and law enforcement to figure out if they will opt into plans like the $67 million “marshal” program. They’ll also be figuring out how to spend their share of $162 million that’s set aside for beefing up police presence at schools.
The bill also creates plans for infrastructure improvements and hardening schools – in other words, making it harder for them to be targets – so districts will have to figure out implementing those changes across the state.
Meanwhile, the NRA has already filed a federal lawsuit to try and block the new law, arguing that it “punishes law-abiding gun owners for the criminal acts of a deranged individual.”
Have more questions you want us to investigate? Send your questions over to [email protected] We’ll be keeping an eye on what happens next.