The countdown has started.
On Thursday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott received Senate Bill 7026 — the gun bill spurred by the Parkland school massacre.
“The governor is thoroughly reviewing the legislation,” spokesman John Tupps said in a statement. “He will be meeting with victims’ families on Friday in Tallahassee before he acts. Our office will have more details as soon as they are available.”
Scott has 15 days to sign the bill into law or veto it. If he does nothing after 15 days, the bill automatically becomes law. The Legislature approved the measure this week.
SB 7026, dubbed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, would toughen gun control in several ways — but would also allow some teachers to be armed.
If Scott signs the bill into law, it would:
— Raise the age to purchase a firearm to 21 from 18;
— Require a three-day waiting period for firearm purchases, with some exceptions;
— Ban the sale or possession of bump fire stocks, which allow a semiautomatic weapon to fire more like an automatic weapon;
— Give law enforcement more authority to seize weapons and ammunition from those deemed mentally unfit or otherwise a threat;
— Provide additional funding for armed school resource officers and mental health services; and
— Enact the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, which would allow some teachers to be armed if both the local school district and local sheriff’s department agree.
That last item was named after the coach who shielded students with his own body and died in the February 14 shooting.
But there are several caveats to the program that would arm some teachers:
— Teachers who “exclusively perform classroom duties as classroom teachers” won’t be allowed to carry guns on campus, unless they have military or law enforcement experience or if they teach a Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program;
— The program is voluntary; no one will be required to carry a gun; and
— Qualified staff members who want to carry a gun must take 144 hours of training.
The state’s teachers’ union sent Scott a letter Thursday asking him to use a line-item veto on funding for the Guardian program.
“We urge you to honor your instincts and act to keep additional firearms from our schools unless they are in the hands of trained law enforcement personnel,” the letter from the Florida Education Association says. “Please veto the funding and language in the budget that provides for arming school personnel.”
The union says teachers should not have to choose between confronting a gunman or getting their students to safety.
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