Governor Rick Scott unveiled his school safety proposals in Tallahassee on Friday, as teachers have returned for the first time to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School since the shooting on Feb. 14 that killed 17 people. While criticized by some as not going far enough, the measures were significant in a state that hasn’t passed any type of gun control since Republicans took control of state government in 1999.
In addition to banning firearm sales to anyone under 21, the governor called for a trained law enforcement officer for every school — and one for every 1,000 students at larger schools — by the time the fall 2018 school year begins.
The shooting sparked an intense push to restrict access to assault rifles, fueled by student activists who swarmed the state Capitol demanding concrete gun control measures.
The governor’s $500 million plan would create a “violent threat restraining order” that would let a court prohibit a violent or mentally ill person from purchasing or possessing a firearm or any other weapon under certain circumstances.
Scott is seeking $50 million for initiatives that include expanding mental health services by providing counseling, crisis management and other mental health services for youth and young adults.
“No one with mental issues should have access to a gun. It is common sense. It is for their own best interest, much less the best interest of our communities,” Scott said.
On Friday, President Donald Trump said he favored arming teachers to protect students; an idea many educators rejected out of hand. “I am totally against arming teachers. They have a challenging job as it is,” said Broward schools Superintendent Robert Runcie.
The governor’s plan made no mention of arming teachers on school grounds. However, the Legislature’s Republican leadership proposed letting teachers carry a gun if they have had law enforcement training. The legislators’ plan also calls for a three-day waiting period for most gun purchases, with exceptions.
Talia Rumsky, a 16-year-old Stoneman Douglas High student who was at school during the shooting, was among those who traveled to Tallahassee to lobby lawmakers about gun control. She said Scott’s plan to make it illegal for anyone under 21 to purchase a gun is a start, but said she doesn’t think it goes far enough.
“This is a great first step and we appreciate it, but it’s not enough and we’re going to make sure they know it’s not enough and is not solving our problems,” said the student.
After days of funerals for those killed in the attack, teachers began the emotionally fraught process of returning to the school Friday to collect belongings from classrooms that have been off-limits since the shooting. Following an orientation Sunday for teachers and students, classes resume on Wednesday.
Blogged By Deja Miller