Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced a potentially massive overhaul in changes to gun laws, mental health and school safety Friday in a news conference stemming from the deaths of 17 people in the Parkland school shooting.
Scott, who started his news conference by reading the names of those shot and killed last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, stated that there is “nothing more important than the safety of our children.”
Scott broke his plan down into three categories: Gun laws, school safety and mental health.
The biggest change stemming from his announced plan is the new required age of 21 to purchase or own a gun in Florida. People will still be able to take others under the age hunting, but the guns would not be allowed to be possessed or purchased by those under 21.
Other gun laws included in his plans are the Violent Threat Restraining Order, which would allow the court to prohibit a violent or mentally ill person from purchasing or possessing a firearm or any other weapon.
“I want to make it virtually impossible for anyone who has mental issues to use a gun,” Scott said in the news conference. “I want to make it virtually impossible for anyone who is a danger to themselves or others to use a gun.”
The governor also wants to ban the purchase and sale of bump stocks.
Scott also wants to strengthen protections under the Baker Act, as read below:
“We will also strengthen gun purchase and possession restrictions for mentally ill individuals under the Baker Act. If a court involuntarily commits someone because they are a risk to themselves or others, they would be required to surrender all firearms and not regain their right to purchase or possess a firearm until a court hearing. We are also proposing a minimum 60-day period before individuals can ask a court to restore access to firearms.”
The proposed gun laws will also prohibit a person from possessing or purchasing a firearm if they are subject to an injunction for protection against stalking, cyberstalking, dating violence, repeat violence, sexual violence, or domestic violence.
Scott’s second part of his plan would provide $450 million to keep students safe. He’s calling for a mandatory law enforcement officer at every public school, with one officer for every 1,000 students at a school.
Mandatory active shooter training is also being sought in this plan for all schools.
The plan also calls for the following:
“We are also increasing funding in the Safe Schools Allocation to address specific school safety needs within each school district. This includes school hardening measures like metal detectors, bullet-proof glass, steel doors, and upgraded locks. The Florida Department of Education, with FDLE, will also provide minimum school safety and security standards by July 1 to all school districts.”
Schools must also have dedicated mental health counselors on site to provide direct counseling services to students at every school. They can’t serve dual roles and must solely work one-on-one with students on their mental health, Scott said.
Scott is also wanting to have a DCF employee at all sheriff’s offices to provide assistance as a crisis welfare worker. This will require 67 additional employees to be hired at DCF by July 15.
All of these and other changes are preliminary and Scott said he will be working with legislators over the next two weeks to enact these changes.
He said he doesn’t agree with arming teachers or banning AR-15s from the public.
“I know there are some who are advocating a mass takeaway of second amendment rights for all Americans. That is not the answer,” Scott said.