In Florida, parents, teens, officials talk safety


Associated Press

PARKLAND, FLA.

Florida’s governor said Tuesday that he’s determined to make the Parkland school shooting the last the state ever experiences.

Gov. Rick Scott met with Miami-Dade County officials to outline a plan to pass a school safety bill before the state’s annual legislative session ends next Friday.

Scott says he wants to spend $500 million to increase law enforcement and mental health counselors at schools, to make buildings more secure with metal detectors and to create an anonymous tip line.

Family members of slain students spoke during the news conference and during a legislative hearing Tuesday in Tallahassee.

The father of a girl who was shot to death at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14 urged people not to allow the contentious gun debate to stall other efforts.

“Let’s not get mired down in that debate,” said Ryan Petty, father of Alaina Petty. “There will be time for that. Right now, we secure our schools. Next, we figure out what went wrong.”

Also Tuesday, a House committee approved the bill that would raise the minimum age to buy rifles from 18 to 21 and create a three-day waiting period for all gun purchases. The bill would also create a program that allows teachers who receive law enforcement training and are deputized by the local sheriff’s office to carry concealed weapons in the classroom if also approved by the school district.

Marion Hammer, a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association and Unified Sportsmen of Florida, told the House Appropriations Committee that she supports hardening schools and keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, but couldn’t support the bill because of the new restrictions on gun ownership.

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