After school shooting, Florida leaders propose new gun laws
Florida’s governor announced plans Friday to put more armed guards in schools and to make it harder for young adults and some with mental illness to buy guns, responding to days of intense lobbying from survivors of last week’s shooting at a Florida high school.
Gov. Rick Scott unveiled his school safety proposals as teachers returned for the first time to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School since the shooting nine days ago that killed 17 people.
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.
President Donald Trump said repeatedly Friday that he favored arming teachers to protect students, an idea many educators rejected out of hand.
“I am totally against arming teachers,” Broward schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said. “They have a challenging job as it is.”
Scott, a Republican widely expected to run for the Senate, outlined his plan at a Tallahassee news conference. 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.
Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, which has more than 3,000 students, had one armed resource officer who never entered the building under attack while a gunman was shooting people inside, officials said.
That failure was compounded by confusion about what was being shown to police on school security cameras the day of the shooting and the lack of meaningful response to reports to the FBI and local police that 19-year-old suspect Nikolas Cruz might become violent, had guns and possibly would attack a school.
Florida’s House speaker called it an “abject breakdown at all levels.” Cruz is jailed on 17 counts of murder and has confessed the shootings, investigators say.
A woman close to Cruz warned the FBI on Jan. 5 that he had rifles and said, “I know he is going to explode,” according to a transcript of the tip to the FBI’s call center, which was obtained Friday by The Associated Press. The FBI has acknowledged it failed to investigate the tip.
Among other things, 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.
The proposal would also strengthen gun purchase and possession restrictions for mentally ill people under the state’s Baker Act, which allows someone to be involuntarily hospitalized for up to 72 hours. 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.