Published On: Thu, Mar 8th, 2018

Florida House passes gun control measure: What’s in the bill and What’s not in the bill

In the wake of the Parkland school shooting, Florida lawmakers passed a $400 million gun control and school safety bill on Wednesday, defying some members of the National Rifle Association as well as anti-gun activists.

The legislation passed in the Florida House, with a vote of 67 to 50, after a narrow 20-18 passage in the state senate. This bipartisan vote comes three weeks after Nikolas Cruz opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., murdering 17 and injuring many others.

The bill moves to Gov. Rick Scott’s desk.

Scott expressed reservations about provisions to arm personnel and institute a three-day wait period to buy guns. Earlier Wednesday, he vowed to review the bill “line by line” before signing it. “The group that I’m going to be talking to — the groups that I care most about right now because it impacted them so much — is the families,” Scott said.

Facebook photo/student posing with rifle at a gun show

What’s in the bill:

Raise the minimum age

The bill would change the minimum age for all gun purchases to 21 from 18. This provision is designed to prohibit shooters, like Cruz, only 19, from legally buying a rifle like the one used in the Parkland massacre.

Add a three-day waiting period

Prospective gun buyers would have to wait three days, or until a background check is completed, whichever is longer. There would be some exceptions, including for police officers, members of the military, licensed hunters and licensed concealed carriers. Since technology delivers background checks almost immediately and the exclusion involves a wide range of gun enthusiasts, critics claim this doesn’t add much value to the bill. Cruz had purchased the Smith & Wesson M&P 15 .223 a year prior to the shooting.

Ban bump stocks

The banning of bump stocks after the Vegas shooting stalled when an Illinois ban failed to pass. Bump stocks are devices that can be attached to rifles to enable them to fire faster, turning a semi-automatic weapon into one that fires like an illegal automatic weapon. After Nevada massacre, the N.R.A. said it supported a national ban on bump stocks.

Arm school employees

A provision in the bill would allow superintendents and sheriffs to arm school personnel, deputizing the use of the firearm to defend against attacks in these gun-free zones.  The bill would create a $67 million voluntary “marshal” program under which certain employees, including counselors, coaches and librarians, but not full-time classroom teachers, could be trained and armed.

Fund school security

The bill allocates millions of dollars to make buildings more secure and to hire more school-based police officers. Some critics are questioning the move since there was one armed resource officer, Scot Peterson, on the grounds but did not enter the building.

Expand mental health services and gun ownership restraining orders

Florida school districts would receive state funding to provide mental health care to students and allow the police to temporarily confiscate guns from anyone subject to involuntary psychiatric evaluation under Florida’s Baker Act. It would also prohibit gun sales to Floridians who were committed to mental institutions or deemed mentally incompetent by a judge, and would allow the police, with judicial approval, to bar a person deemed dangerous from owning guns for up to a year.

What’s not in the bill:

Ban ArmaLite rifles (nicknamed assault weapons by some) 

Many gun control activists and lawmakers just want “assault rifles” or “assault weapons” banned. The ambiguous term didn’t get traction during the bill’s debate. A federal ban was in place from 1994 to 2004 applied to semiautomatic weapons with two or more of a list of specific features (for example, a telescoping stock and a pistol grip).

Suspend AR-15 sales

In response to the failed efforts to ban all “assault weapons,” Democrat Senator Oscar Braynon proposed an amendment to the gun control bill that would have halted AR-15 sales for two years. Braynon’s amendment was also rejected, particularly since it didn’t include in exceptions for police officers, members of the military, licensed hunters and licensed concealed carriers.

Ban high-capacity magazines

The bill does not ban high-capacity magazines, with critics noting that there are uncommon magazines which hold 100 rounds. Advocates against the magazines list mass shootings which involved the use of magazines holding 20-30 rounds or more. Legislature on this ban did not move forward and analysis also reveals that those magazines were already banned in those states. Colorado ban starts at 15 rounds, California and Connecticut 10 rounds, but the illegal magazines were used in those shootings.

Strengthen background checks

Changes to background check procedures have received bipartisan support, but legislating an improved process continues to be become a questionable process. Proponents of the move note that private firearm sales are not always subject to checks and officials do not always inform the F.B.I.’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (Texas church shooting in Sutherland Springs).

That said, human error and private transactions would continue with new legislature, so regulations would be ineffective while risking unfair problems for legal gun owners.

photo/ svklimkin

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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