It’s a move that few of us wanted, but deep in our hearts knew was going to happen eventually. Following massive public and political pressure, Florida is the first state to enact gun control legislation following the Parkland Shooting thanks to the signature of Governor Rick Scott.
Last Friday, following its passage in the Florida State House and Senate earlier in the week, Governor Rick Scott signed Senate Bill 7026, also known as the “Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act”. The move was immediately met by opposition from the NRA who filed a lawsuit against the state because of some of the content within the bill.
But what does SB 7026 specifically do with regards to gun control in the state? Let’s take a closer look at some of the major steps that it takes.
WHAT DOES THIS LEGISLATION DO?
ADDS ADDITIONAL FUNDING FOR MENTAL HEALTH
In what is seen as the most positive portion for second amendment supporters in an overall very anti-gun bill, Florida will add $69 million for mental health assistance in schools in the hopes that individuals such as the man who committed the massacre in Parkland can be better discovered and dissuaded from committing these acts before they even happen.
However, the bill also prohibits gun sales to any Floridian who has been committed to a mental institution, deemed incompetent by a judge and can even bar people deemed dangerous by police and judges from owning a gun for up to a year.
BANS BUMP STOCKS
This was always going to be the sacrificial lamb when it came to any gun control. Even though bump stocks had nothing to do with the Parkland shooting, they have been vilified since they played such a major part in America’s deadliest mass shooting last October in Las Vegas.
Everyone from the President to the NRA has said in the past that banning bump stocks was a way to go to prevent events like what happened in Las Vegas so, regardless of its use at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, the bump stock will no longer be legal in Florida.
CREATES A WAITING PERIOD FOR PURCHASING FIREARMS
Now we are getting into deeper water here. Under the new law, gun buyers will now have to wait for either three days or until a background check is completed to purchase firearms in Florida. This is nearly universal, but there are some key exceptions being made for who will need to regard this portion of the law.
Police officers, members of the military, licensed hunters and licensed concealed carriers are exempt from this waiting period, so for most of you reading this, this is likely to affect you the least.
RAISES THE MINIMUM AGE TO BUY A GUN
This one, however, will affect our younger readers and is the portion of the bill that is being viciously fought against in the legal system by the NRA and that is the raising of the age limit to purchase a gun from 18 to 21.
This portion of the bill, while very much opposed by second amendment advocates was explicitly supported by both Governor Scott as well as Senator Marco Rubio, a man whose high NRA grade may well fall considerably before his next re-election campaign.
ADDS ADDITIONAL SECURITY TO SCHOOLS
I figured I would end with what might be the best part of this bill and that is that Florida is finally diving into arming and training our school faculty members in hopes that they will be the first line of defense in case another school shooting should occur.
Between police response time as well as the tragic failure of the Parkland Police to even attempt to stop the shooting from happening, it is a smart idea to have someone within the building already set to handle the situation quickly.
SB 7026 is set to allocate hundreds of millions of dollars to make Florida schools more secure, hire more school-based police officers, and create a $67 million school marshal program which will allow school counselors, athletics coaches, and librarians access to firearms training and the ability to carry within the schools.
There is one group, though, that is missing from this marshal program and that is teachers. Under the law, no full-time classroom teachers will be allowed the same training given to the faculty mentioned prior.
This is also not a mandatory portion of the bill. Governor Scott stated that he wanted to leave it to local districts to decide whether or not they wish to arm their faculty in the first place.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE FUTURE?
That’s obviously a difficult question because we don’t have a crystal ball. Perhaps it will show more states that arming our faculty and teachers is a good idea that can prevent tragedies like the Parkland shooting. Perhaps it could get more Americans to see that well-trained, good-hearted folks can be guardians with guns and that just because someone is armed does not mean that they are a danger.
On the other hand, however, the portions of this bill could set a precedent for more sweeping legislation for Florida and the rest of the United States in the future. After all, once the pandora’s box of gun control is opened it is nearly impossible to close.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this matter. Do you believe in any portion of this bill? What do you think this means for the future of gun laws here? Let us know in the comments below.