aside The Kids Did It! Florida Legislators Have Passed A Gun Control Law In Defiance Of NRA

On March 9, 2018, the republican Florida Governor Rick Scott did it. He signed the first gun control bill passed by the Florida legislators in defiance of the NRA.

It can be said that the survivors of the February 14, 2018 mass shooting where 17 innocents lost their lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, have channeled their grief into very effective activism. These teenagers challenged the status quo and the mind set of adults, that nothing could be done to alter current gun laws because of powerful lobby, the NRA or the National Rifle Association which would not brook changes.

FROM NEW REPUBLIC

And sure enough, as soon a the Florida governor signed the law, the NRA filed suit in the courts to contest the enactment of this new Florida gun legislation.

This new Florida gun control act is far from perfect but it is a start.

Florida has deservedly earned the nickname “Gunshine State” because of its plethora of firearms and loose gun restrictions. But on Friday (3/9/18), Governor Rick Scott signed into law an array of gun limits. 

The new bipartisan gun control law is named after Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fl. The most controversial section of the law is where the bill allows for certain staff members to carry guns in schools. It was this part of the bill that caused the governor to hesitate in signing this legislation passed by the Florida Assembly on the 7th of March, but in the end, he relented.

FROM NEW REPUBLIC

Here is the rest of the story…

On March 8, 2018, Maggie Astor of the New York Times penned the following report, “Florida Gun Bill: What’s in It, and What Isn’t”

“The gun control bill that the Florida Legislature passed on Wednesday (3/7/18 was, in many respects, a major victory for the new activists of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. It was passed in defiance of the National Rifle Association and, if Gov. Rick Scott signs it, will be the first successful gun control measure in Florida in more than 20 years.”

“But it left out many of the biggest provisions the students and their supporters had sought, including bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Here is a look at what is in the final bill, and what is not.”

FROM NEW REPUBLIC

What the bill does

• Raise the minimum age. The bill would change the minimum age for all gun purchases to 21 from 18 — a provision that would have prohibited the Parkland gunman, Nikolas Cruz, 19, from legally buying the rifle he used in his massacre. This is a divergence from federal law, under which people cannot buy handguns from licensed dealers until they are 21, but can buy shotguns and rifles — often much deadlier than handguns — at 18. (Unlicensed sales, such as at gun shows, have looser restrictions.) Governor Scott and Senator Marco Rubio, a fellow Republican, endorsed the age increase last month.

• Create a waiting period. Prospective gun buyers would have to wait three days, or until a background check is completed, whichever is longer. There would be some exceptions, including for police officers, members of the military, licensed hunters and licensed concealed carriers.

EMMA GONZALEZ/ FROM NEW REPUBLIC

• Ban bump stocks. “Bump stocks are devices that can be attached to rifles to enable them to fire faster, and they will no longer be legal in Florida if the bill is signed. (You can learn more about them here.) They came to public attention in October, after a gunman in Las Vegas used them to kill 58 people and wound hundreds; with the devices, his semiautomatic weapons were able to fire almost as fast as fully automatic machine guns. After that massacre, the N.R.A. said it supported a national ban on bump stocks, an extremely rare gun control endorsement by the group. But the proposal languished in Congress, and while President Trump told the Justice Department last month to issue new regulations, thus far it has not.”

• Arm school employees. “Perhaps the most controversial provision of the bill is one that would allow superintendents and sheriffs to arm school personnel — a measure not requested by the Parkland students but long desired by the N.R.A., which argues that gun-free zones prevent people from defending themselves in an attack. Specifically, the bill would create a $67 million “marshal” program under which certain employees — including counselors, coaches and librarians, but not full-time classroom teachers — could be trained and armed. (The program would be voluntary.) Under an amendment successfully proposed by State Senator Randolph Bracy, a Democrat, these employees would first have to undergo 12 hours of diversity training.”

Samuel Zeif/ FROM NEW REPUBLIC

• Fund school security. “The bill allocates millions of dollars to make buildings more secure and to hire more school-based police officers. However, when the Parkland shooting happened, an armed school resource officer was present, standing by the door to the building, and did not enter. (The officer, Scot Peterson, resigned from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office after his actions were called into question; Sheriff Scott Israel said at a news conference last month that he should have gone into the building and confronted the gunman. Mr. Peterson later said he acted the way he did because he thought the gunfire was coming from outside.)”

• Expand mental health services and regulations. “Florida school districts would receive state funding to provide mental health care to students. Additionally, the bill would allow the police to temporarily confiscate guns from anyone subject to involuntary psychiatric evaluation under Florida’s Baker Act. It would also prohibit gun sales to Floridians who were committed to mental institutions or deemed mentally incompetent by a judge, and would allow the police — with judicial approval — to bar a person deemed dangerous from owning guns for up to a year.”

Julia Cordover/ FROM NEW REPUBLIC

What it doesn’t do

• Ban assault weapons. “One of the biggest demands of the Parkland students — as well as many lawmakers, including some Republicans generally sympathetic to the N.R.A. — was a ban on assault weapons. The term is ambiguous and would have needed to be defined in any such legislation; a federal ban that was in place from 1994 to 2004 applied to semiautomatic weapons with two or more of a list of specific features (for example, a telescoping stock and a pistol grip). The wounds caused by these weapons can be far more devastating than a handgun injury, and in polls, majorities support banning them.”

• Suspend AR-15 sales. “Once it became clear that a majority of the Florida Legislature was not inclined to ban all assault weapons, Senator Oscar Braynon, a Democrat, proposed an amendment to the gun control bill that would have halted AR-15 sales for two years. The AR-15 and its variants have become the weapons of choice for many mass shooters, including Mr. Cruz as well as the gunmen in Sutherland Springs, Tex.Las VegasOrlando, Fla.San Bernardino, Calif.Newtown, Conn.; and Aurora, Colo. With such a weapon, an attacker can wield essentially the same firepower as American soldiers. Mr. Braynon’s amendment was rejected.”

• Ban high-capacity magazines. The bill does not ban high-capacity magazines, which can hold as many as 100 rounds. These magazines allow gunmen to shoot more people in less time, because they do not have to stop to reload as often. (In addition to the obvious — forcing a pause in the gunfire — reloading can afford a brief opportunity to take the gunman down. The 2011 shooting in Tucson, Ariz., which killed six people and gravely wounded Representative Gabrielle Giffords, ended when the gunman stopped to reload and onlookers grabbed the new magazine from his hands and tackled him.) Like a ban on assault weapons, this is a proposal with widespread public support.

• Strengthen background checks. Changes to background check procedures have received bipartisan support since the Parkland shooting, including from President Trump, but the Florida bill does not address them. Federal law requires background checks for gun sales by licensed dealers, but there are holes in the system. Private firearm sales are not always subject to checks, for example. And officials do not always inform the F.B.I.’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System of things, like criminal convictions and mental illnesses, that could disqualify a person from buying a gun. The Sutherland Springs shooter, for example, had been court-martialed for domestic violence, but the Air Force did not submit that information to the federal database; nor did it report similar information about dozens of other people.

11 comments

  1. These are not gun control measures to please the people they’re measures to please the NRA since they were willing to make a gesture. There’s absolutely nothing to stop the same slaughters happening again and the new rules to enable some school staff to carry just enable more gun sales for the NRA.
    Trump told the justice department to issue new regulations but so far they have not, If this was an executive order why has he not chased it up and said at what stage things are? Or was his just something he said to offer a sop to the youngsters from Florida.
    Is Rick Scott coming up for election anytime soon or maybe this is a PR exercise by the Republicans but I’m afraid I find this a fairly empty gesture.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear David Prosser,

      You are right. What Governor Rick Scott’s law does is not close to what is necessary to prevent future mass shootings. Floridians and the kids know this.

      The NRA has already filed a lawsuit with the courts to block this bill. To get stronger legislation, the Florida Assembly will have to fill the majority of its elected legislative seats with democrats.

      The Florida Assembly majority for now is in the hands of the Republican Party. In the US, the states of Florida and Texas have the most lax gun laws.

      You are right in saying that it helped that this is an election year and this is most likely the reason as to why this bill was passed.

      The kids are not at all satisfied with this new law as well as the majority of Floridians. Governor Scott instituted the least number of gun control measures possible under these circumstances. No one is fooled.

      Yet this is more than even the US Congress has been able to do.

      It is a baby step and far from ideal. But in Florida, breaking with the NRA even at this level is a big deal.

      Hugs, Gronda

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Gary J,

      The young activists’s fight is far from over. But already they have managed to accomplish more than many thought was possible. It’s a baby step in the right direction.

      More importantly the NRA’s led smear campaign against these kids is not working. This is a big deal. Just Google the name of one of these survivors/ activists like David Hogg to get an idea as to how sick this campaign has been.

      Hugs, Gronda

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Gronda, I agree it is not perfect, but it is a major step and kudos to the students for driving this. I also believe the NRA is showing its stripes by suing the State of Florida. Long ago, the NRA forsook its mission of gun safety. Their decision will and should come back to haunt them. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Keith,

      For reasonable people, it is hard to understand why the republican majority Florida legislative body and the US Congress can’t pass even the most reasonable gun control laws because of their fear of the lobbying power of the NRA. This means that lawmakers are more intent on keeping their jobs than in protecting the lives of our children. This is tough to explain but it is the reality we live with on a daily basis.

      These kids took on the NRA bloodsuckers and the cowardly lawmakers and they made a dent. There is a lot more to do.

      Hugs, Gronda

      Like

    • Dear Suzanne,

      As a resident of Florida, I know full well that this is only a start but it is more than I had imagined possible. Thank you a million times over for all of your support and for this reblog.

      Hugs, Gronda

      Like

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