The first Florida gun control legislation following the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was signed into law by Florida Governor Rick Scott on March 9. The legislation, Senate Bill 7026, will be known as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act. The legislation strengthens gun control while allowing some teachers in the state to be armed.
The provision that most are focusing on in the legislation is that the minimum age to purchase a firearm in the state is now 21, up from 18. The National Rifle Association filed a lawsuit against the state when the legislation was signed, claiming that it violates the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution.
“Gun violence has long been a problem not only in Florida but throughout the country,” Wellington criminal defense lawyer Brian S. Leifert, of Leifert & Leifert, said. “Victims of gun violence are seeing a little bit of justice with this legislation being signed into law.”
The $400 million bill was sent to Governor Scott early in March after much debate throughout the state. The bill has been met with heavy criticism, especially the provision that arms some teachers. This provision, known as the Coach Aaron Feis
Guardian Program, allows for teachers to be armed if an agreement can be reached between school districts and their local sheriff’s offices.
The Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program is named after the heroic coach who died shielding students from the gunman on February 14 in Parkland. Counties are not mandated to arm teachers, which means they can opt out of the program. If counties do decide to opt out the funding can be moved to local departments to hire additional school officers.
The legislation also includes money for replacing a building at the high school, strengthening school security, and improving mental health assistance in schools. Remaining provisions of the law give law enforcement more power to seize ammunition and firearms from those who are mentally unstable, funding for armed resource officers, and the ban of bump stock sales.
The guardian program provision was opposed by the state teacher’s union, asking Governor Scott to veto this line item in the bill. Governor Scott kept all line items in the legislation when he signed it into law.