After ten days of passionate debate, the Florida House has passed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act by a vote of 67-50. This bill will in some ways tighten gun regulations, but it will also allow teachers to carry concealed weapons while on school property. Over the weekend, FL Governor Rick Scott signed the bill into law, something he previous said he wouldn’t do.
A full breakdown of what the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act includes is as follows:
- Raising the age to purchase a firearm in Florida from 18 to 21
- Banning the sale or possession of bump stocks in Florida
- Imposing a three-day wait period on firearm purchases in Florida, while allowing for a few exceptions
- Providing law enforcement officers more authority to seize weapons from individuals that deem to be mentally unwell or individuals they deem to pose a significant and obvious threat
- Allotting additional funding to go towards mental health services in Florida as well as additional funding to go towards placing armed resource officers in schools
- Allowing teachers and other school staff who wish to do so to carry a concealed weapon on school property and creating a firearms and safety training program for these teachers and staff to undergo
Interestingly enough, it is this last provision of the bill that was the biggest sticking point for the Republican governor Rick Scott. Scott has continuously voiced his opposition to arming teachers ever since President Trump first floated the idea in a meeting on how to stop mass shootings.
The Guardian program – the name of the program in the bill that will arm teachers – has faced opposition from a number of others in Florida as well, including Paula D. Wright, Chairman of Duval County School Board, who said, “School districts cannot handle the liability of the Guardian Program. Florida legislators have taken the Pontius Pilate approach regarding ensuring our children — our most defenseless — are safe.”
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act is a bittersweet pill for supporters of the Second Amendment to swallow. On the one hand, additional funding for mental health services and armed school resource officers is something that is long overdue that actually might be able to make a difference in stopping school shooters without having to infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens in any way.
Likewise, enabling school teachers and staff to carry concealed weapons could also prove to be a major deterrent to school shooters, and many of the concerns about this program are largely overblown.
However, some of the other provisions in the bill will be a little more difficult for supporters of the Second Amendment to stomach. There is zero data to suggest that raising the age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21 will curb mass shootings in any way. In fact, since 2009 there has only been one mass shooting carried out by an individual between the age of 18-20 who acquired his firearm legally, and even still there’s little reason to believe that he would not have been able to acquire his weapon in some other way if the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act had already been in place.
This as well as requiring a three-day waiting period on all firearm purchases will do precious little to stop mass shooters (who normally plan their heinous acts months in advance) and will make it more difficult for law-abiding, vulnerable citizens to defend themselves.
Perhaps the most concerning aspect of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, though, is the provision which allows law enforcement to seize firearms from individuals they deem to be a threat. Infringing on a person’s Second Amendment rights without due process is a slippery slope and is way too much authority to give to any one law enforcement officer.
Nevertheless, many are calling the bill a step in the right direction, supporting both the provisions backed by gun rights groups that the bill contains as well as the provisions backed by the gun control crowd. Only time will tell if the bill makes any real difference in curbing mass shootings in Florida.
Let us know in the comments section how you feel about Florida’s new gun control bill.
~ American Gun News