Florida Gov. Rick Scott is debating whether to sign a gun-control bill that the state Legislature passed Wednesday, and said he would speak with survivors of the 17 victims of the Feb. 14 massacre in Parkland before making a decision.
“I’m going to take the time and I’m going to read the bill and I’m going to talk to families,” he said.
“I’m going to take the time and I’m going to read the bill and I’m going to talk to families.”
The bill would raise the minimum purchasing age for buying a rifle from 18 to 21, invoke a three-day waiting period on purchases and enable school employees and many teachers to be armed.
It would also allow for law enforcement to temporarily seize guns from the mentally ill and fund measures like bulletproof glass and metal detectors at schools, the Miami Herald reported.
In a bid to appease Scott, who voiced opposition to arming teachers, the state Senate later amended the bill to no longer include arming most teachers in a “guardian” program, but instead would train up to 10 school personnel to carry weapons in every school, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Incoming Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, believes the change will be enough to persuade Scott to sign the bill into law as early as Friday, the paper reported.
Scott has received high praise from the National Rifle Association in the past, but he put some distance between himself and the lobbying organization following last month’s massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School – even creating a $500 million proposal to place an armed officer in every school.
As for the NRA, the organization opposes raising the age limit as well as imposing new waiting periods, with NRA and Unified Sportsmen of Florida lobbyist Marion Hammer on Thursday call the Legislature’s bill “a display of bullying and coercion” that would punishes law-abiding citizens and infringe on Second Amendment rights.
President Donald Trump, meanwhile, congratulated Florida on its legislation, saying state lawmakers “passed a lot of very good legislation last night.”
During a Cabinet meeting Thursday, Trump said the White House was working on a plan to ban bump stock devices and that efforts to enhance gun-purchase background checks were “moving along well” in Congress.
The Tampa Bay Times reported that officials in the state’s largest school districts, including Miami-Dade and Broward counties, have balked at the idea of arming employees and instead called for funding to support putting more police officers in schools.
Florida’s teachers union asked Scott to veto $67 million set aside for the guardian program. Under Florida law, Scott can sign the bill but use his line-item veto power to eliminate the funding.
Nikolas Cruz, the suspected gunman in the Parkland attack, faces 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted murder for the massacre.
The public defender for the 19-year-old former Stoneman Douglas student said Cruz will plead guilty if prosecutors remove the death penalty from play and instead sentence him to life in prison. Prosecutors have not announced a decision.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.