[Breaking news update 6:XX p.m. ET]
The Florida House on Wednesday passed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, which includes several gun control measures. The bill now goes to Gov. Rick Scott, who has expressed reservations about a provision that would allow some teachers to carry weapons in schools.
[Previous version published at 4:06 p.m.]
As the Florida House prepares to vote on a school safety measure, the state’s Republican governor, Rick Scott, is still not saying whether he would sign the bill.
Scott opposes a provision of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act that would allow some teachers and other school staff to carry weapons.
“I’ve been clear, I don’t think we ought to be arming teachers,” Scott said in a brief news conference Wednesday.
Whether to sign the bill is an important political consideration for Scott, who is term-limited and is widely expected to challenge Florida’s Democratic US senator, Bill Nelson, in the November midterm election. Florida’s House and Senate are majority Republican, and their legislative session ends Friday. The House could vote on the measure as soon as Wednesday.
“The bill is still being debated. If and when the bill makes it to my desk, I’ll do what they don’t seem to be doing in Washington,” Scott said. “I’m going to review the bill line by line and the group that I’m going to be talking to — the groups that I care most about right now because it impacted them so much — is the families.”
Scott was set to meet Wednesday morning with his Cabinet.
Scott also concerned about waiting period
The bill includes the following measures:
– Raise the age to purchase a firearm to 21 from 18;
– Require a three-day waiting period for firearm purchases, with some exceptions;
– Ban the sale or possession of bump fire stocks, which allow a semiautomatic weapon to fire more like an automatic weapon;
– Give law enforcement more authority to seize weapons and ammunition from those deemed mentally unfit or otherwise a threat;
– Provide additional funding for armed school resource officers and mental health services.
The state Senate on Monday amended the most contentious provision in the bill — establishing a voluntary program that would allow school personnel to be armed? if they undergo 144 hours of training — to address concerns raised by students, teachers, parents and Scott, who argued, “Teachers should teach.”
Under the change, those who “exclusively perform classroom duties as classroom teachers” wouldn’t be allowed to participate in the program. Teachers who perform additional duties, like coaching football or heading the drama club, would be allowed to participate, as would other school staff like administrators and cafeteria workers.
Shortly after the Senate limited which teachers would be allowed to be armed, the governor’s office called the move “a step in the right direction,” but by Tuesday night, Scott’s office had restated his opposition.
Scott also expressed concern over the three-day waiting period currently included in the Legislation,” spokeswoman Schenone said Tuesday.
As of mid-morning Wednesday, the House hadn’t made any changes to the Senate version.
Students from Parkland, some of whom have become fierce advocates for gun control in the wake of the February 14 shooting that left 17 people dead, have demanded an assault weapons ban and have urged lawmakers not to allow the arming of teachers.?