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Gov. Rick Scott And Florida Lawmakers At Odds On School Safety

Miami Herald Archive
Gov. Rick Scott

Florida’s governor and state lawmakers each released plans for improving school safety following last week’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, including major changes to gun laws and more money for mental health.

On Friday, Gov. Rick Scott released   athree-point planto improve safety in Florida’s public schools that includes $500 million  in spending for mental health and school security.

The plan would also raise the minimum gun-buying age to 21 and enhance criminal penalties for threats made on social media. It also requires mandatory active shooter training at all schools. Students, teachers and staff must complete all training and "code red" drills by the end of the first week of each semester.

In a separate plan, state lawmakers have proposed a three-day waiting period for most firearm purchases and they want a program to train and arm teachers and administrators on school grounds. 

Madisyn Coles graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year. She says she’s encouraged by the points in the governor's plan.

"Some of them seem like a step in the right direction, especially with enforcing more security on the school campuses and making it seem like a safer place for the students to go," said Coles. 

John Megashur, another Stoneman High alumnus from the class of 2016 who flew from Indiana to be with his community, says he likes that the governor’s plan would restrict gun sales to people with a history of violence — who have “been subject to an injunction for protection against stalking, cyberstalking, dating violence, repeat violence, sexual violence or domestic violence.”

Megashur said he thought the governor's plan "covers a pretty wide basis of things, but it also doesn’t focus on the issue of the AR-15, and there’s definitely some loopholes that they can get around, a small waiting period."  

He says that he thinks it’s going to be hard to get the ideas in the plan passed.

“Just trying to get this passed through is going to be pretty difficult.”

Scott's plan also calls for a trained law enforcement officer in every school in Florida by the time the 2018 school year begins. He is proposing one officer for every 1,000 students on campus. Stoneman Douglas had one armed resource officer, who never entered the school during the shooting.

The sale of bump stocks would be completely banned under the proposal.

Any legislative changes would have to be made before the end of Florida’s legislative session, scheduled for March 9.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report. 

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