Florida Senate narrowly OKs gun bill


After a series of intense discussions, the Florida Senate voted 20-18 on Monday in favor of a school safety plan that enables a teacher or staff member to carry concealed weapons in the classroom and raises the base age for firearm purchases.

The Florida House may approve a similar measure later today.

The bill forces a three-day waiting period for any firearm buy and raises the base lawful age for purchasing all weapons in Florida from 18 to 21.

The vote’s final decision came following a three-hour debate Monday and a marathon session on Saturday. Legislators measured a $400 million bundle of safety efforts and emotional wellness programs against a first-of-its-kind school marshal program, while a modest bunch of Second Amendment Republicans considered whether they could acknowledge new confinements on weapon purchases.

Following the vote there were few legislators who were totally content with the legislation that is a reaction to the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland that left 17 individuals dead.

 Numerous Republicans opposed raising the age to purchase rifles from 18 to 21 or even making a waiting period to buy the weapons.

Numerous Democrats said the bill was inadequate because it does include a bam on assault rifles.

Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, drove the Senate's efforts to react to the Valentine Day's mass shooting, watching that bipartisan restriction to the proposition showed it hit nerves and sent administrators out of their usual ranges of familiarity.

"This bill will make a difference now. When it becomes law, things will start changing,” said Galvano. “It will be one of those areas where we can … stand up and say to the families, to the communities, to the children, to our children, that we listened. And we are trying. We are trying hard.” 

Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo was neutral. After SB 7026 passed the Senate Monday evening, Rizzo issued an announcement saying, "This isn't the enactment the Parkland understudies battled for — this does not go sufficiently far to shield our understudies from firearm viciousness.”

The four-point plan would provide:

• $98 million to make schools more physically secured

• $87 million to establish a Safe Schools program

• $69 million for mental health assistance

• $25 million to replace the classroom building where the massacre occurred

• $18.3 million for mobile crisis teams

• $500,000 for mental health first aid training

Student survivors and their sponsors requested a prohibition on assault-style weapons when they rallied at the state Capitol seven days after the shooting. Their partners in the Legislature, however, realized that would be an overwhelming lift. Florida has among the loosest firearm controls in the country. What's more, when pioneers reacted with almost a half billion dollars for school solidifying and emotional wellness programs, legislators were compelled to grapple with the proposition's bookkeeping – cash in return for firearms in the classroom.

Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, alongside Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation, voted in favor of the bill. A previous school administrator, secondary school essential and classroom educator, Montford said he couldn't dismiss the cash, despite the fact that he disagreed with arming instructors.

“If we walk away from $400 million — is teachers carrying guns a poison pill? Absolutely,” said Montford. “I can’t imagine that.  But there are others in this who have embraced it. My position is to leave it up to them. There is never enough money for anything we do up here. School districts are always having to scrape to come up with money.”