Florida House Votes to Pass Gun-School Safety Bill

Michael Hein


The Florida House of Representatives voted to pass the school safety bill inspired by the Parkland, Florida school shooting on Feb. 14.

The bill passed the Florida state Senate on Monday. It will now go to Gov. Rick Scott for approval. Scott has made no indication as to whether he will sign it, though he has a reputation for being against many gun restriction measures.

The bill would raise the purchasing age for firearms from 18 to 21 in the state of Florida. It would also add a three-day waiting period to the purchasing process, according to the Associated Press. Other measures in the 100-page bill include creating a commission to investigate the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and authorize those investigators to make further recommendations to state Legislature.

However, the more controversial part of the bill is the program to train and arm teachers in Florida schools. The program would be named for Aaron Feis, the assistant football coach at Stoneman Douglas High who gave his life shielding students from gunfire in the tragic shooting. The proposed program would allow teachers and school personnel who perform multiple duties on campus to volunteer for special, state-sanctioned firearm training.

Teachers who only work in classroom settings would not be eligible to carry weapons in school. The bill specifically calls for coaches and teachers in similar roles to be armed in case of a conflict on the premises. There would be exceptions for any teachers will military or law enforcement backgrounds, and teachers in a Junior Reserve Officer's Training Corps program. The provision allows school districts to opt out of the program if they don't want to participate.

The bill narrowly passed the state Senate in a vote of 20-18. The House debated on it for eight hours on Tuesday, and eight more on Wednesday. Lawmakers struck down various amendments along the way. Any effort to prevent school staff from carrying guns were shot down. Finally, the legislation passed with a vote of 67 to 50.

President Donald Trump has been a big supporter of arming teachers, stating that it would act as a deterrent and and an emergency measure. However, he was also one of the most outspoken critics of Deputy Scott Peterson, the Stoneman Douglas High resource officer.

Peterson was the only other armed person on campus when former student Nikolas Cruz arrived with his AR-15 assault rifle on Valentine's Day. During the six-minute long shooting, Peterson reportedly stood outside of the building, gun drawn, never running in.

Many people have criticized Peterson, calling him a coward, however, his story has not stopped proponents from advocating for arming teachers in schools.

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