Florida Gov. signs landmark gun control bill

By Pooja Paidipalli
Staff Writer

On March 9, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation that imposed tight gun limitations following the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida last month, according to CNN. Senate Bill 7026 is the first legislative gun control measure taken after the grisly shooting in one of the most gun-friendly states in the country.

The bill includes funding for mental health services and a ban on bump stocks. (AP Photo)

The bill, known colloquially as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, raised the minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21, extended the long guns waiting period to three days and banned bump stocks to prevent guns from firing automatically, according to CNN.

The bill permits police to seize firearms from the mentally ill, fund bulletproof glass and metal detectors and train teachers and other personnel to carry guns in every school, according to Fox News.

The bill also allocated over $69 million in funds for mental health services in schools. The government will spend an additional $98 million to heighten school building security, according to CNN.

Families of Parkland shooting victims applauded the bill.

“When it comes to preventing future acts of horrific school violence, this is the beginning of the journey,” said Tony Montalto, whose daughter Gina was killed, according to The New York Times. “We have paid a terrible price for this progress.”

The Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, a section of the bill named after the coach who was killed while shielding students with his own body, is a controversial $67 million provision that arms teachers with the consent of both the school district and local police department, according to CNN.

The guardian program faced fierce opposition from teachers’ unions that sent letters to Scott, urging him to veto funding that would permit school personnel to carry weapons, yet Scott emphasized that the guardian program is voluntary, according to CNN.

“If counties do not want to do this, they simply can say no,” he said, according to CNN.

The bill carries significant political implications for Scott, who is approaching his term limit. Scott received high praise from the National Rifle Association in the past, and the signing of the bill marked his first time deviating from the organization’s philosophies, according to CNN.

The bill faced immediate opposition from the NRA, which filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court and deemed the new law unconstitutional for imposing age restrictions on purchasing weapons, according to NPR.

“Florida’s law banning adult law-abiding citizens under 21 from purchasing firearms of any kind is unconstitutional under the Second Amendment and 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution,” the NRA wrote in the suit, according to NPR.

The law’s passage surprised many residents of the state. Florida had previously failed to impose gun restrictions after shootings at Pulse nightclub in 2016, which claimed 49 lives, and Fort Lauderdale airport, which left five dead, according to The New York Times.

“To the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, you made your voices heard,” Scott said, according to CNN. “You didn’t let up and you fought until there was change.”