March 23, 2018

Florida Gov. Rick Scott Signs Gun Bill, NRA Sues To Stop It

12 March 2018, 01:51 | Rodolfo Wallace

Gov. Scott signs school safety bill in wake of Parkland shooting

Florida Gov. Rick Scott Signs Gun Bill Arming Certain School Staff Into Law

Under the new law, the age to purchase a firearm was raised to 21, sales and possession of bump stocks were banned, and law enforcement was given more power to seize guns and ammunition from those deemed mentally unfit.

At the signing, Scott was flanked by family members of the victims of the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

"After we get through this spring, we will probably take some time to assess how to move forward", he said.

Scott has repeatedly said that he objects to the three-day waiting period in the legislation and opposes "arming teachers", but would not say whether he intends to sign the bill into law.

Besides limiting the age of gun purchasers, the bill also allocates $400mn for the so-called Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, named after the school coach who was shot and killed during the Parkland massacre. "That is why I am signing the legislation today", Scott, said, as media from across the nation, crammed into the governor's office, looked on.

Money managers have a fiduciary responsibility to their clients, so they have to make a financial case to divest rather than one based on moral grounds, Sorkin said. He singled out two fathers whose children were killed, saying that they walked the halls of the Legislature since the shooting to enact change. "You know, when I was younger, the organization seemed to be primarily focused on gun safety and hunters' rights. And that's healthy in our democracy", he said.

Many survivors of the school shooting had called for the bill - which narrowly passed the House and Senate - to go further.

The Parkland parents and students were instrumental in the passage of Florida's first gun restrictions in almost two decades, said Rep. Jared Moskowitz, a Coral Springs Democrat who graduated from Douglas High and served on the Parkland city commission. "It's nowhere near the long-term solution", said Chris Grady, a senior at Stoneman Douglas High. "It's a baby step, but a huge step at the same time". "We have paid a awful price for this progress".

He told the students who had quickly become the public face of the gun-control movement in the wake of the tragedy, "you helped change our state. You should be proud".

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Andrew Pollack, whose daughter was among the 17 killed, said more needed to be done, but there was enough good in the bill that it should pass.

The bill marks Governor Scott's break with the National Rifle Association.

"Whatever I think of the NRA, they're providing legitimate educational services", said Billy Townsend, a school board member in Florida's Polk County district, whose JROTC programs received $33,000, primarily to buy air rifles.

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.

The new law also sets aside funding for the development of a statewide program, which will train willing school employees on how to handle a firearm - a program the NRA is in favor of.

"This blanket ban violates the fundamental rights of thousands of responsible, law-abiding Florida citizens and is thus invalid under the Second and Fourteenth Amendments", the lawsuit reads.

The bill has been an important political consideration for Scott, who is facing term limits as governor and is widely expected to challenge Florida's Democratic US senator, Bill Nelson, in November's midterm election.

The teacher-arming provision would allow school districts that don't want to participate to opt out.

Several students texted CNN's Dianne Gallagher with their excitement about Scott signing the measures. The 19-year-old Parkland shooter had bought his mass murder weapon legally. In a brief hearing Friday, he stood with his head bowed as he appeared via video conference. The indictment also included 17 counts of attempted murder.

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