Florida House votes to pass gun-school safety bill
iStock/Thinkstock(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) — The Florida House voted to pass a gun-school safety bill spurred by the Valentine’s Day mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High that left 17 people dead.
The bill now heads to Gov. Rick Scott’s desk. Scott has not said whether he will sign it.
It includes a controversial measure to arm some teachers and other school personnel who undergo special training sanctioned by the state. The provision would allow school districts that don’t want to participate to opt out of the program.
Under the bill, any teacher who does nothing but work in a classroom would not be eligible for the program, but teachers who perform other duties, such as serving as a coach, and other school employees could participate. Other exceptions would be made for teachers with law enforcement or military backgrounds, and teachers in a Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps program.
The bill names the program for Aaron Feis, the assistant football coach who was killed at Stoneman Douglas and has been hailed as a hero for shielding students during the school attack.
The proposed legislation was narrowly approved by the state Senate on Monday with a vote of 20-18, and the House held eight hours of debate on it Tuesday, striking down amendments to strip the bill of any measures to block school staff from carrying guns to work. The House passed the bill Wednesday evening, 67-50, after another eight hours of debate, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
President Donald Trump has publicly supported arming teachers who are properly trained as a way of hardening schools against gun violence.
The bill also:
— Requires a three-day waiting period to buy a firearm.
— Raises the age to buy a gun from 18 to 21.
— Creates a commission to investigate the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and make recommendations to the state Legislature.
An earlier proposal to ban the sale of assault weapons like the AR-15-style rifle used in the school massacre was voted down by the Florida lawmakers even as students who survived the shooting sat in the State Capitol gallery.
The National Rifle Association has opposed the most of the proposed legislation, with the exception of arming teachers in schools.
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