TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP/WFLA) – The Florida Senate has passed a school safety bill that would place new restrictions on rifle sales, allow some teachers to carry guns in schools and create new school mental health programs.
The Senate voted 20-18 Monday for the bill that’s a response to the Feb. 14 school shootings in Parkland that left 17 people dead.
Few, if any, senators were completely happy with the legislation. Many Republicans don’t like the idea of raising the minimum age to buy rifles from 18 to 21 or creating a waiting period to purchase the weapons.
Many Democrats think the bill didn’t go far enough because it doesn’t include a ban on assault-style rifles or large-capacity magazines.
The Senate amended the bill to put limits on which teachers could participate in a proposed program to carry guns in schools.
Florida’s House has not yet taken up its version of the bill.
Here is a list of senators who crossed party lines on the vote:Republicans voting no:
- Dennis K. Baxley – Ocala
- Tom Lee – Hillsborough
- W. Gregory Steube – Sarasota
- George Gainer – Bay
Demcrats voting yes:
- Lauren Book – Broward
- Kevin Rader – Palm Beach and Broward, represents Parkland in the senate
- Bill Montford – Tallahassee
This is the Senate’s summary of the bill:Mental Health:
- Authorizes a law enforcement officer who is taking a person into custody for an involuntary examination under the Baker Act to seize and hold a firearm or ammunition from the person for 24 hours after the person is released and does not have a risk protection order against them or is the subject of a firearm disability.
- Prohibits a person who has been adjudicated mentally defective or who has been committed to a mental institution from owning or possessing a firearm until a court orders otherwise.
- Creates a process for a law enforcement officer or law enforcement agency to petition a court for a risk protection order to temporarily prevent persons who are at high risk of harming themselves or others from accessing firearms when a person poses a significant danger to himself or herself or others, including significant danger as a result of a mental health crisis or violent behavior. The bill also:
- Allows a court to issue a risk protection order for up to 12 months.
- Requires the surrender of all firearms and ammunition if a risk protection order is issued.
- Provides a process for a risk protection order to be vacated or extended.
- Requires a three-day waiting period for all firearms, not just handguns or until the background check is completed, whichever is later. Provides exceptions for:
- Concealed weapons permit holders, and
- For the purchase of firearms other than handguns, an exception for:
- Individuals who have completed a 16-hour hunter safety course;
- Individuals holding a valid Florida hunting license; or
- Law enforcement officers, correctional officers and service members (military and national guard)
- Prohibits a person under 21 years of age from purchasing a firearm, and prohibits licensed firearm dealers, importers, and manufacturers, from selling a firearm, except in the case of a member of the military, or a law enforcement or correctional officer when purchasing a rifle or shotgun. (Persons under 21 years of age are already prohibited from purchasing a handgun under federal law.)
- Prohibits a bump-fire stock from being imported, transferred, distributed, sold, keeping for sale, offering for sale, possessing, or giving away within the state.
- Establishes the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission to investigate system failures in the Parkland school shooting and prior mass violence incidents, and develop recommendations for system improvements.
- Codifies the Office of Safe Schools within the Florida Department of Education (DOE) and which will service as a central repository for the best practices, training standards, and compliance regarding school safety and security.
- Permits a sheriff to establish a Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program.
- The legislation allows school districts to decide whether to participate in the guardian program if it is available in their county.
- A guardian must complete 132 hours of comprehensive firearm safety and proficiency training, pass a psychological evaluation, submit to and pass drug tests; and complete certified diversity training. The guardian program is named after Coach Aaron Feis, who lost his life protecting students during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The guardian program is completely voluntary for a sheriff to establish, for a school district to participate, and for an individual to volunteer.
- Individuals who exclusively perform classroom duties as classroom teachers are excluded from participating in a Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program. However, this limitation does not apply to classroom teachers of a Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program; a current service member; and a current or former law enforcement officer.
- Requires each district school board and school district superintendent to cooperate with law enforcement agencies to assign one or more safe-school officers at each school facility. The safe-school officer requirement can be satisfied by appointing any combination of a school resource officer, a school safety officer, or a school guardian.
- Requires each district school board to designate a district school safety specialist to serve as the district’s primary point of public contact for public school safety functions.
- Requires each school district to designate school safety specialists and a threat assessment team at each school, and requires the team to operate under the district school safety specialist’s direction.
- Requires the DOE to contract for the development of a Florida Safe Schools Assessment Tool which will assist school districts in conducting security assessments to identify threats and vulnerabilities.
- Creates the mental health assistance allocation to assist school districts in establishing or expanding school-based mental health care.
- Prohibits a person from making, posting, or transmitting a threat to conduct a mass shooting or an act of terrorism.
- Requires DCF to contract for community action treatment teams to provider behavioral health and support services.
- Requires FDLE to procure a mobile app that would allow students and the community to relay information anonymously concerning unsafe, dangerous threats. The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglass recommended that the program be named “FortifyFL”