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Florida Legislative Session Round Table Week Eight: Firearm Regulation, School Safety and More

Rachel Iacovone, WGCU
Students Rallying for Gun Reform Friday in Collier County

As we enter the eighth week of Florida’s annual legislative session, state and federal lawmakers are under pressure to address school shootings after the Valentine’s Day mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people.  Survivors of the shooting traveled to Tallahassee last week to speak directly with state lawmakers and to participate in a rally demanding safe schools and an end to gun violence.  Days later, Florida House and Senate leaders outlined a $400 to $500 million series of proposals aimed at addressing the problem.  

Those proposals include a measure that would allow law-enforcement trained school employees to become armed “marshals,” as President Donald Trump has proposed.  They also include raising the minimum age of gun purchasers to 21, banning bump stocks which allow firearms to rapidly spray bullets, requiring a three-day waiting period for purchasers of all types of firearms, and increased spending for school safety improvements and mental health services. 

Gov. Rick Scott says he supports some of those proposals, but has come out against the idea of arming teachers.  Meanwhile, state legislative leaders say they will not be looking to ban semiautomatic rifles, known as “assault rifles,” such as the one used in the Parkland High School shooting, as well as the shootings at Sandy Hook, the Pulse Nightclub and in the Las Vegas shooting.  Meanwhile, students and communities throughout the state have been participating in protest ‘walkouts’ and other demonstrations demanding action to address gun violence.  We’ll get analysis from Florida Gulf Coast University Political Science Professor and Second Amendment expert Peter Bergerson, Ph.D., and we’ll hear from WGCU’s Rachel Iacovone who covered a rally last Friday here in Southwest Florida.