Florida shooting: Governor wants to ban violent people from owning guns and station armed personnel in every school

Under intense pressure to act after a deadly school shooting, Rick Scott announces his response to the latest gun violence

Jeremy B. White
San Francisco
Friday 23 February 2018 21:02 GMT
Florida Gov. Rick Scott proposes changes he'd like to push through state legislature

Florida’s Republican governor embraced a sweeping gun laws package in response to a deadly high school shooting, vowing to keep firearms away from mentally ill people and dispatch armed law enforcement officers to every school.

Governor Rick Scott and other Florida politicians have come under tremendous pressure to act after a gunman killed 17 students and teachers last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. In a press conference announcing his agenda, Mr Scott endorsed swift action before the state Legislature adjourns.

“We must get this done in the next two weeks”, he said.

Part of Mr Scott’s response involved limiting access to firearms. He endorsed raising the age for buying any type of firearm to 21, with exemptions for military personnel and law enforcement, and advocated measures to prohibit gun ownership for people who are mentally ill or deemed to pose a threat.

The latter proposal would allow courts to bar mentally ill or potentially violent people from possessing or purchasing firearms when a family member, welfare expert or law enforcement officer offered evidence of “a threat of violence involving firearms or other weapons”, Mr Scott said.

Suspected Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz had allegedly spoken about his desire to inflict violence - behaviour that the FBI was made aware of but did not investigate - and multiple government agencies were aware of a video in which he cut himself and talked about owning a gun.

“This person was not stopped from legally purchasing a weapon, was not arrested, was not detained, and was never forced to turn in his weapons,” Mr Scott said, advocating doing “everything we can to keep guns out of the hands of those dealing with mental problems or threatening harms to themselves or others”.

The other piece of Mr Scott’s agenda would fortify school security with a $450 million outlay that would include stationing armed law enforcement personnel in every public school. Mr Scott said they would be sheriff’s deputies or police officers, downplaying a proposal - embraced by Donald Trump - to arm teachers.

“I disagree with arming the teachers. My focus is on bringing in law enforcement,” Mr Scott said. “Let law enforcement do the keeping us safe and let teachers focus on teaching”.

The Governor also called for banning bump stocks, a device that harnesses a gun’s recoil to enable more rapid firing.

The Republican-controlled state legislature rallied behind Mr Scott’s framework, releasing legislation that tracked with his proposals and would also impose a 3-day waiting period for buying guns. Breaking with Mr Scott, legislators backed allowing trained and certified teachers to carry firearms on campus.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in