In Tallahassee today, Florida Governor Rick Scott offered his outline for legislation meant to address school shootings. Nope, there’s no ban on assault weapons or limits on magazine capacity, as student demonstrators have been demanding. But for a Republican in a state whose government is usually just a rubber stamp for the NRA’s wish lists, Scott’s proposals are at least a first step. Yr Wonkette thinks it’s important to pat them on the head when they do something good. Considering it’s grifty Medicaid frauder Rick Scott, we hope he won’t mind if we wear blue nitrile gloves. No, this doesn’t at all mean we support his plan to run for the US Senate.
The biggest change actually defies NRA orthodoxy: Scott wants to raise the minimum age for firearm purchases to 21. Currently, in accordance with federal law, people have to be 21 to purchase a handgun, but 18-year-olds can buy long guns — shotguns, rifles, and military-style semiautomatic assault rifles like the AR-15 the shooter in Parkland used last week to kill 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The NRA is dead set against such restrictions, although Donald Trump has also talked about raising the federal minimum purchase age to 21 for long guns, too. It’s not an assault weapons ban, but it would have prevented the MSD High shooter, who was 19, from buying his gun.
In addition to the new age limits, Scott called for increased school security, requesting funding to hire an armed school resource officer for each 1000 students at any school. MSD High currently has just under 3,000 students, which would have placed one or two (assuming they’d round up?) additional armed deputies on campus, as opposed to the single deputy on duty last Wednesday — and he didn’t actually go into the school to confront the shooter. The research on school resource officers’ effectiveness in preventing school shootings is still not conclusive, and there’s significant evidence that, as with other policing, there’s a real risk that black students may be more subject to arrest for minor infractions, so we can’t say we’re delighted about this. But unlike Donald Trump, at least Rick Scott opposes arming school staff. Not even the ones who are really gung ho about carrying a concealed weapon at school. Again, let’s give the governor some positive reinforcement, possibly some yummy bacon snax.
In a genuinely progressive move, Scott called for creation of a
“Violent Threat Restraining Order,” which will allow a court to prohibit a violent or mentally ill person from purchasing or possessing a firearm or any other weapon when either a family member, community welfare expert or law enforcement officer files a sworn request and presents evidence to the court of a threat of violence involving firearms or other weapons.
Such “Red Flag Laws” are endorsed by Everytown for Gun Safety, and have been adopted in five states. And now Florida? Wow.
Scott’s plan would also strengthen limits on gun purchases/possession for mentally ill people under the state’s “Baker Act,” requiring a 60-day wait after an involuntary commitment before someone could petition to get their guns back. And in a move that should have been taken long ago, Scott’s proposing a ban on firearm purchases or possession for anyone subject to a protective order for “stalking, cyberstalking, dating violence, repeat violence, sexual violence, or domestic violence.” Keep in mind that neither of those measures would have applied to the MSD shooter, but the limits on domestic/dating abusers will be a huge relief for thousands of people who might otherwise be harmed. Enhance the Baker and give Scott a cookie.
The New York Times reports some legislators are considering introducing measures that could go beyond Scott’s proposals. Some lawmakers want to let teachers be armed (VERY BAD IDEA, NO COOKIE) while others want to extend the state’s three-day waiting period for handgun purchases to all firearms purchases (YES YOU GET COOKIES!).
Incidentally, we should add that while the Florida House did indeed reject a proposed ban on assault weapons, only to then approve measures declaring pornography a public health threat and mandating the display of “IN GOD WE TRUST” signs in all schools and school board buildings, those measures were not explicitly connected to gun laws. They were just stupid wastes of time all on their own.
Needless to say, the NRA is already grumpy about the proposed age limits:
take credit for getting the attention of the governor and the Florida Lege — we’ll admit, we never would have predicted even these improvements in gun safety from Florida. GOOD JOB, #TEENS! And enjoy your cookies, Florida Republicans — you did better than terrible. You’ll need to do even better, of course.
“Legislative proposals that prevent law-abiding adults aged 18-20 years old from acquiring rifles and shotguns effectively prohibits them from purchasing any firearm, thus depriving them of their constitutional right to self-protection,” Jennifer Baker, an N.R.A. spokeswoman, said in a statement on Thursday.