Florida Enacts New Gun Control Bill

Earlier this week, Florida’s lawmakers approved a new bill providing gun restrictions in response to the February 14 Douglas High School shooting. On March 9, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed it into law, marking the state’s first gun control legislation after the February 14 Parkland shooting.

“We have paid a terrible price for this progress. We call on more states to follow Florida’s lead and create meaningful legislation to make all schools safer. This time must be different.” – Tony Montalto, father of a Parkland shooting victim

Known as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, the bill raises the legal age for gun purchases from 18 to 21, establishes a three day waiting period, provides funds for mental health treatment for students, and tightens gun restrictions overall. At the same time, the bill also allows for, but does not mandate, the arming of school personnel in a guardian program named after Aaron Feis, the Douglas school football coach who shielded students from the Florida shooter. However controversial it may be, it did help the bill gain Republican support.

Just hours after the bill was signed, the National Rifle Association responded with a lawsuit. The group claims that the new legislation is an “affront to the Second Amendment, as it totally eviscerates the right of law-abiding adults between the ages of 18 and 21 to keep and bear arms.” In particular, the lawsuit asks for a federal judge to prohibit the new age restriction. According to Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, the bill “punishes law-abiding gun owners for the criminal acts of a deranged individual.”

“I wish I could tell you that I’m happy. But how could we be happy? [My son] buried a sister and I buried my daughter. To me, this is a start for us.” – Andrew Pollack, father of a Parkland shooting victim

The passing of the bill was a shock to many, especially considering the loyalty that Rick Scott had to the NRA up until this point. Even the fact that this restrictive legislation was passed in one of the most traditionally gun-friendly, Republican-leaning, 2nd Amendment-loyal states makes this an impressive achievement. We can only hope that this bill signifies a shift in gun control legislation. We can hope that other states follow Florida’s example. We can hope that the efforts of the Parkland teens have proven successful with the execution of this bill. But for now, we can celebrate this temporary victory in the fight for gun control.

Photo: Lorie Shaull / Flickr

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