On Wednesday, the Florida House of Representatives passed a school safety bill that allows some teachers to carry firearms on school campuses and increases the age requirement for purchasing firearms to 21 and older.
The bill, which also passed Florida's Senate, now heads to Republican Governor Rick Scott's desk where he will make a decision on whether to sign the bill into law. According to the Orlando Sentinel, details of the bill include:
- Allows some school staff to carry firearms. Although most classroom teachers would not be allowed to carry guns, librarians, media specialists, advisors, coaches and others could be armed. Current service members, current or former law enforcement officers and teachers in a Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corp program could also be armed.
- Provides $300 million in funding for mental health programs, school resource officers, school safety upgrades and more.
- Restricts firearm purchases to those age 21 and older and requires a three-day waiting period and background checks, the same limitations that are currently in place for handguns.
The bill even had support from some Democrats, including Democratic Rep. Kristin Jacobs, who said that she voted for the bill even though she was not in favor of arming teachers.
"There is a cultural divide in this room, in this state and across the country," said Jacobs, whose district includes Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. "And there's a bill before us that is not perfect."
However, not all Republicans voted "yes" for the legislation, as Republican Rep. Jay Fant voted "no," arguing that the bill is unconstitutional since it raises the minimum age needed to purchase firearms.
"I just can't imagine that (Parkland, Florida shooter) can commit such a heinous crime and then as a result we tell, potentially, a 20-year-old single mother living alone that she cannot purchase a firearm to defend herself," Fant said.
The governor told reporters that he plans to take his time going over the bill and will speak to victim's families about it before he makes a decision.