Florida Senate passes school safety bill that excludes ban on assault rifles


The Florida Senate on Monday passed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, almost three weeks after 17 people were killed and more than a dozen injured in a shooting at the Parkland school.

>> Read more trending news 

The legislation includes increased funding for gun and school safety and for mental health resources. It also establishes the Marshal program, which would allow school personnel to receive law enforcement training and carry a concealed weapon on campus.

"The opportunity to meet with and listen to survivors ... as well as the families of the victims has had a tremendous impact on each and every senator," Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, said in an emailed statement. "We are listening. The Senate hears you, and we are taking the appropriate steps to help ensure that a senseless tragedy like this never happens again."

Read: Trump says arming teachers in schools 'Up to States'

Sen. President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, said Monday that the Senate will increase resources for school safety and security and for preventing those with mental illness from accessing guns.

"We will do everything we can to address the failure of government to effectively address the numerous warning signs that should have identified the perpetrator as a danger to others," Negron said.

Senators hammered out the legislation during a rare special session in Tallahassee over the weekend.

Read: Police advocacy group says it opposes arming teachers

The Senate spent nearly eight hours Saturday debating dozens of amendments to the 100-page bill before voting to approve the legislation Monday.

Democratic proposals to ban assault rifles and large-capacity magazines were rejected, as was a Democratic proposal to strip language from the bill that would create the Marshal progam.

>> Related: Ivanka Trump: 'I don't know' if teachers should be armed

It was clear that senators were divided on the bill, and not just on party lines. While crafted by Republicans, some GOP senators still opposed it because they don't agree with raising the minimum age to buy a rifle from 18 to 21 or requiring a waiting period to buy the weapons.

Democrats believe the legislation doesn't go far enough in some ways and too far in others. And while some oppose the bill, others believe it's at least a first step toward gun safety.

>> RelatedTrump comments points to deep divisions over arming teachers

Democrats want to ban weapons such as the AR-15 assault-style rifle, which was used in the Parkland attack. Many also oppose arming teachers. The bill also includes provisions to boost school security, establish new mental health programs in schools, and improve communication between schools, law enforcement and state agencies.

Jeff Xavier, a survivor of the Pulse attack, was hoping the legislation would include a ban on assault rifles.

 >> Related:Police experts urge intensive training if teachers are armed

“I think that, as Americans, we do have a right to arm ourselves. However, I do not believe that high-powered, high-velocity (guns) should be available to the general public," Xavier said.

But much of the debate Saturday revolved around gun control and whether people should have a right to own an assault rifle.

"Every constitutional right that we hold dear has a limitation," said Democratic Sen. Gary Farmer. "These are just military-style killing machines and the right of self-defense and the ability to hunt will go on."

Republicans argued that banning such weapons would violate the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

>> Related: Kroger raises gun buying age to 21 at its Fred Meyer stores, report says

"Our founding fathers weren't talking about hunting, and they weren't talking about protecting themselves from the thief down the street who might break in," said Republican Sen. David Simmons.

Simmons said people need guns to protect themselves from a tyrannical government.

>> Related: After Parkland, even idle school threats get tough response

The Legislature wraps up its annual session Friday. Lawmakers are scrambling to take some kind of action before then. The full House has yet to take up its version of the bill.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott has been lobbying lawmakers to pass his plan to assign at least one law enforcement officer for every 1,000 students at a school. Scott is opposed to arming teachers.

>> Related: How difficult is it to purchase a gun in Florida?


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Nation World

CNN's Anderson Cooper calls out Donald Trump Jr., debunks hurricane meme
CNN's Anderson Cooper calls out Donald Trump Jr., debunks hurricane meme

Atlanta-based CNN is often dismissed as "fake news" by President Donald Trump and his supporters. Seeking to prove their point, some right-wing meme creators found a photo of Anderson Cooper in waist-deep floodwater, claiming he was exaggerating and staging shots during Hurricane Florence.  But the photo was from 2008...
Springfield man expected to be sentenced today in attempted murder case
Springfield man expected to be sentenced today in attempted murder case

A Springfield man accused of shooting at two brothers is expected to be sentenced today, according to online records. Elrashawn Dover, 18, pleaded guilty in Clark County Common Pleas Court to attempted murder, a gun specification and receiving stolen property, according to court records. He faces up to 15.5 years in prison. He also faces a $25,000...
Heinz brings Mayochup to the US; Twitter vote for debut city
Heinz brings Mayochup to the US; Twitter vote for debut city

Americans will soon be able to try Heinz’s latest creation -- Mayochup. The ketchup company introduced the combination in Arab Gulf states earlier this year, but after being prodded to bring the product to U.S. store shelves, the company has decided to give its customers what they want and bring it to America.  All it took was a half million...
National Cheeseburger Day 2018: Deals and freebies on burgers Tuesday
National Cheeseburger Day 2018: Deals and freebies on burgers Tuesday

Tuesday is National Cheeseburger Day, and whether you like yours with “lettuce and tomato, Heinz 57 and French-fried potatoes. Big kosher pickle and a cold draught beer,” or if your tastes are more simple, here are some deals on the American classic. 2nd and Charles: Get a free Bob’s Burgers cheeseburger at checkout as long as supplies...
Hyperloop concept gets first regulations, safety guidelines
Hyperloop concept gets first regulations, safety guidelines

An exceptionally fast transportation system may be a step closer to Ohio. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HyperloopTT) and German insurance company Munich Re said Monday that a set of core safety requirements and certification guidelines for the fledgling mode of transportation have been created. The hyperloop is expected to transport pods of...
More Stories