Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed an unprecedented $400 million school safety package into law, marking the first gun control measures passed in the state in more than 20 years.
The Florida House and Senate earlier this week voted to send the bill to the Republican governor for approval in wake of the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Surrounded by families of those who died in the attack, Scott said he was signing the measures into law because “this is a time for us to come together, roll up our sleeves and get it done.”
The legislation raises the minimum age to buy a gun of any kind to 21, implements a three-day waiting period to purchase a firearm and bans bump stocks.
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The bill, named for the Parkland high school, also sets aside funding for the development of a statewide program, which will train willing school employees on how to handle a firearm.
The money will also go toward hiring at least one resource officer for each school well as the development of mental health programs and initiatives.
The teen survivors of the deadly shooting have called for gun safety measures in the weeks after one of their former classmates, Nikolas Cruz, gunned down 17 people during his attack in the halls of their high school.
Students have pushed back against arming teachers, but families of those killed in the Valentine’s Day shooting urged lawmakers to pass the bill without delay.
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“You must act to prevent mass murder from ever occurring again at any school,” they wrote in an email to lawmakers ahead of the House vote.
“The issue cannot wait. The moment to pass this bill is now. We must be the last families to suffer the loss of a loved one due to a mass shooting at a school.”
Scott, who said he was opposed to arming teachers and school staff, previously announced he would consult with the families of the victims before vetoing or signing the measure into law.
“I still think law enforment officers should the ones to protect our schools,” he said Friday, adding school districts will not be required to arm staff under the new legislation.
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The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety act is Florida’s first bill passed in response to the high-profile mass shooting — the third the state has experienced since 2016.
The shooting at Fort Lauderdale Airport in 2017 left five dead and six more injured while 49 people were killed and scores more injured in the terrorist attack at Pulse Nightclub the year prior.
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