Some may think it’s not enough, but at least Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, is doing something to prevent gun violence and future school shootings.
In a good first step toward safer schools, Scott held a press conference on Friday to announce a set of proposals he is pursuing in the wake of the Parkland school shooting that left 17 dead at the hands of 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz and his AR-15.
Initially, Scott resisted addressing the need for gun control, but pressure from Parkland students and thousands of other students and their parents across the state forced him to defy the National Rifle Association and finally take action.
“We must take care of our kids,” Scott said while introducing his “Major Action Plan.”
The first part of Scott’s plan involves keeping mentally ill and violent people from having access to any guns. Gov. Scott said:
“I want to make it virtually impossible for anyone who has mental issues to use a gun. I want to make it virtually impossible for anyone who is a danger to themselves or others to use a gun.”
“Keeping guns away from dangerous people and people with mental issues is what we need to do. No one with mental issues should have access to guns. It’s common sense, and it is in their own best interest — not to mention the interests of our communities. And much of what I’m proposing involves giving law enforcement the ability to stop people from harming themselves and others, while giving them the tools to keep our schools safe.”
Scott also proposed restricting the purchase of AR-15s to anyone under the age of 21, something that the NRA opposes along with a ban on bump stocks.
On the issue of school security, Scott clearly broke with President Donald Trump. Gov. Scott continued:
“I disagree with arming teachers. My focus is on bringing in law enforcement. I think you need to have individuals who are trained, well trained.”
That focus will be backed by a $450 million funding proposal to make sure schools are more secure.
Trump proposed arming teachers earlier this week in a meeting with Parkland students and their parents and repeated the idea the next day on Twitter.
The proposal to arm teachers has faced intense backlash, and Scott agreed that teachers should be focused on educating students instead of providing school security.
The plan also includes $50 million for mental health initiatives such as increasing access to mental health services.
The proposal may not be as strong as people hoped, but it’s a good start. For years, handguns were restricted to anyone under the age of 21 in Florida while AR-15s could be purchased by anyone 18 or older.
That could change now. If such a law had been in place, Cruz would not have been able to purchase his AR-15.
Still, a ban on AR-15 style weapons would be more effective. After all, U.S. law currently bans the sale or purchase of fully automatic weapons and it’s no coincidence that automatic weapons are not being used to commit mass shootings.
Parkland survivor Kai Koerber hailed the proposals as “a step in the right direction,” and thanked Scott for “taking steps to secure a better future for the sons and daughters of tomorrow.”
Now that Scott’s proposal is out there, it’s now up to the Florida state legislature to pass them into law. Whether they will do so is the question. After all, when given the chance to bring a gun control bill up for a vote earlier this week, Republicans killed it in favor of declaring pornography a threat to public health and mandating the posting of “In God We Trust” signs in schools.
Featured Image: YouTube screenshot.