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Florida Passes First Gun Control Measure in 20 Years

Post-Parkland, law makers are feeling the pressure

March 09, 2018

On Wednesday, the Florida Legislature passed Senate Bill 7026, also known as Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, the gun bill that was created in response to the Parkland school massacre. On Thursday, Governor Rick Scott received the Bill, and he signed the bill on Friday. According to Scott, a Republican, “Today should serve as an example to the entire country that government can and must move fast.”

This is the first successful gun control measure in Florida in more than 20 years, and Scott contests that the bill acts as a compromise for both gun-control and gun-rights advocates.

 

So what exactly does the bill include?

  • Raising the minimum age for all gun purchases from 18 to 21

  • Creating a waiting period in which a gun buyer must either wait three days or until a background check is completed, whichever is longer

  • Banning bump stocks, which are devices which can be attached to rifles to make them fire faster

  • Increasing funding for school security

  • Expanding mental health services and regulations

    • A ban on preventing people deemed “mentally defective” or who have been committed to a mental institutions from owning or possessing firearms

  • Arming School employees

    • This provision is the most controversial aspect of the bill. A $67 million ‘marshal’ program would train and arm certain employees- but not full-time teachers- if they desired to participate in the program. Known as the Coach Aaron Fels Guardian Program, qualified staff members will have the ability to voluntarily participate in 144 hours of training if they wish to carry a gun. 

       

What is the bill lacking?

  • Banning assault weapons

  • Suspending AR-15 sales, which was the type of weapon used in the majority of recent mass shootings in the U.S. AR-15s wield about the same amount of firepower as an American soldier.

  • Banning high-capacity magazines, which hold as many as 100 rounds

  • Strengthening background checks

Despite being a step toward stricter gun control regulations, the bill still lacks many of the biggest provisions the students and their supporters had desired, especially the ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

However, the passage of SB 7026 can set a positive precedent for national politics. As Governor Scott has demonstrated, changes can be made to help make our communities safer. As Florida becomes the first state to enforce stricter gun laws, the national government should follow Florida’s example and take active steps to fight against gun violence.

 

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