Published: Mon, March 12, 2018
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

Florida bucks NRA on guns; focus turns to whether governor signs it

Florida bucks NRA on guns; focus turns to whether governor signs it

Almost a month after 17 people were killed in a horrific Florida school shooting, the state's governor, Rick Scott, signed a gun safety bill Friday that raised the minimum age to buy a gun but also allows some teachers to be armed.

Rick Scott (R) signed a bill into law on Friday that allows certain school staff members who undergo training to carry guns on campuses and enacts several restrictions on gun purchases.

In contrast to previous school shootings, such as the massacre at Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, when the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature was unwilling to irk the NRA, state lawmakers quickly passed this year's measure for two reasons, according to Moskowitz.

The NRA, which claims 5 million members, is one of the country's most powerful lobbying groups for gun rights.

The marshal program, which was renamed the "guardian program", was one of three objections opponents used to try to kill the bill. "This is a time for all of us to come together, roll up our sleeves and get it done".

'If counties don't want to do this, they can simply say no'.

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These changes in state law are modest, yet they are sound, warranted and responsive to the outcry led by students, teachers and parents from Parkland - distress echoed by what polls suggest is a majority of Floridians who favor reasonable, constitutional limits on rapid-fire weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

But it marked, for a Republican governor, a rare break with the National Rifle Association. It also seeks to improve communication between schools, law enforcement and state agencies.

Since the Florida shooting, the idea of raising the purchase age to 21 has drawn interest from President Donald Trump, though a day after he expressed his public support, NRA officials met with him at the White House, and urged him to back away from the idea.

After the meeting, surrounded by those families, Scott signed the bill (SB 7026) into law.

"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", it says.

"I think it's a small step in a much bigger movement", David Hogg, a 17-year-old senior who lost friends in the horrific school shooting, told the Daily News late Friday.

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"At the end of the day, we'll be left with a really good gun-control, gun-reform bill in the state of Florida", Moskowitz said.

Many Democrats voted against the bill due to a controversial provision creating a program that allows superintendents and sheriffs to arm some school personnel, following the argument that gun-free zones prevent people from defending themselves against a shooter. Scott can't veto individual items in the bill itself, but does have line-item veto power with the budget.

Scott wants more school resource officers instead of teachers with guns.

Meanwhile, the 19-year-old former student accused of opening fire at the school on February 14 made his initial appearance before a judge on 17 attempted murder charges added this week by the grand jury.

We reached out to school districts throughout Southwest Florida to see which schools plan to arm teachers. Nikolas Cruz faces 17 counts of murder and attempted murder. Prosecutors have not announced a decision.

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