Florida Moves the Needle on the Gun Debate

Aanchalika Chauhan

Following the school shooting, Florida  took action to address the current gun laws in this country. This bill, known as The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, imposes stricter gun control laws in the state of Florida. However, Governor Rick Scott has made it clear that not all of the counties in the state of Florida must accept and implement the new bill.


Overview of New Gun Bill:

The new gun bill will raise the minimum age of purchasing a gun from 18 to 21. Under previous gun laws, minors were prohibited from possessing firearms unless they had the consent from a parent or guardian. If the minor owned a firearm, they were only permitted to use it for recreational activities and under parental supervision.

Along with raising the age to purchase firearms, the new legislation will make bump stocks illegal in the state of Florida. A bump stock is a mechanism, made of either metal or plastic, that is attached to the back of rifle and can mimic an automatic machine firearm. Across the United States, bump stocks have been fully legal until now. Recently, the Trump Administration has taken action to ban bump stocks and the Justice Departments has proposed a ban.

One of the most controversial aspects of the gun debate has been the idea of arming the adults present in school. The new gun bill will allow for some Florida school employees to be voluntarily armed. This portion of the bill excludes teachers who are classroom employees but will allow for janitors, librarians, coaches, etc., to be able to complete a firearm training course and be able to hold a gun on school grounds. The governor of Florida has made it clear that school districts in Florida have the ability to refuse enacting this program within their schools.

A three-day wait period will now be established in Florida to accommodate for any background checks before one can own a firearm. The time taken for the background check trumps the three-day wait period. For example, if the background check takes five days, then the three-day wait period becomes invalid and the potential gun buyer will receive the gun after five days (when the background check is complete.) The wait period does not apply to law enforcement personales.

Additionally, millions of dollars in funds will be provided to hire more police officers and enforce safety in school buildings. Funds from the state will be used to make school buildings safer, such as granting schools money to be able to purchase better security systems and cameras.

Police officers in the state of Florida can now requisite firearms from any person under evaluation for being mentally unstable. Moreover,  anyone in the state of Florida who had been in a mental institution would be prohibited from purchases a firearm of any kind.


NRA Opposition

The NRA is suing the state of Florida claiming that citizens of the age of 18 are legally considered adults and it would be a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution to raise the age to possess a firearm. They also bring up the Second Amendment, saying that the new gun law infringes on the right to bear arms. The NRA affirms that the law is unfair towards women, as they are less likely for commit a violent crime between the ages 18-21.


A Step Forward

The US House of Representatives will be voting on a school safety bill next week that has been proposed by Representative John Rutherford. This bill will create programs across the country to teach citizens how to look out for gun violence in their community. The House has not yet decided on voting on any other laws that will implement stricter gun control measures. Although this gun law only applies to the state of Florida, it represents the rising demand for action in our country as a whole.