Fla. Gov. Scott Wants 'Major Changes' in Gun Laws, School Safety - NBC Bay Area
Parkland School Tragedy

Parkland School Tragedy

Continuing coverage of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Shooting

Fla. Gov. Scott Wants 'Major Changes' in Gun Laws, School Safety

"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," Scott said



    Gov. Scott Announces Gun Law, School Safety Changes

    The three part plan would include increasing the age to purchase a assualt rifle as well as armed officers at each school in the state. (Published Friday, Feb. 23, 2018)

    In the wake of the worst mass shooting inside a Florida school, Gov. Rick Scott announced a "major action plan" in an effort to keep students safe.

    Scott held a Friday morning press conference in which he laid out an action plan aimed at improving safety on school campuses and keeping guns away from those people struggling with mental illness.

    "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," Scott said.

    The Governor, who traveled to Parkland within hours of the February 14th tragedy inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people, has met with a variety of school officials, including students, teachers and parents from Douglas after a rally for gun law reform.

    Scott began his Friday news conference by reading the names of all of the victims.

    "Unfortunately, none of the plans I’m announcing today will bring any of them back," he said.

    Included in Scott's plan is what he calls a "Violent Threat Restraining Order," which would 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.

    Scott said he also wants to require anyone purchasing a firearm to be at least 21, with exceptions for active duty and reserve military and spouses, National Guard members and law enforcement.

    Scott's plan also would require anyone involuntarily committed by a court to surrender all firearms and not regain their right to purchase or possess a firearm until a court hearing. The plan would 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 is also calling for a mandatory law enforcement officer in every public school, with at least one officer for every 1,000 students by the 2018 school year. Sheriff's departments would also be allowed to train school personnel or reserve law enforcement officers to protect students.

    A new, anonymous "See Something, Say Something" hotline, website and mobile app for K-12 students statewide will also be initiated.

    Jaclyn Corin, a shooting survivor who is part of the #NeverAgain movement to prevent similar tragedies, said the app may be a "small step" but that "we are moving in the right direction."

    "Apps like this have been successful in other states, as utilizing social media to prevent gun violence/suicide/other threats is incredibly beneficial for this generation," Corin wrote on Twitter.

    Scott said $50 million in additional funding will be made available for mental health initiatives.

    "We must expand mental health service teams statewide to serve youth and young adults with early or serious mental illness by providing counseling, crisis management and other critical mental health services," Scott said.

    Scott said keeping away guns from dangerous people and people with mental issues is what needs to be done, rather than a "mass takeaway of 2nd amendment rights."

    "I do know that some are going to accuse me of unfairly stigmatizing those who struggle with mental illness. I reject that," he said. "I am not asking them to wear a scarlet letter, nor am I unsympathetic to their plight. I have a family member who has dealt with these issues. It is hard on them and it is hard on the family."

    The Governor's proposal was met with criticism from Florida's longtime U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, who called it the "bare minimum."

    “Students, parents and teachers across our state are demanding action - but instead of listening to them, it’s clear the governor is once again choosing to listen only to the NRA," the three-term Democrat wrote. "The governor’s plan doesn’t do one thing to ensure comprehensive criminal background checks or ban assault rifles, like the AR-15. We need to get these assault rifles off our streets and expand criminal background checks for anyone acquiring a gun."

    Some students called the measures a step forward.

    "We did not know if he was listening to us because they were being very political, as politicians are, so we’re happy to see that change is happening," student Tanzil Philip said.

    "I think it is a step in the right direction but honestly I don’t feel like we need to have such high powered guns," Lara Terrazas said.

    Politicians under pressure to tighten gun laws in response to the mass shooting floated various plans Thursday, but most fell short of reforms demanded by student activists who converged Wednesday on Florida's Capitol.

    Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran said Thursday night that his chamber is going to recommend creating a special commission to investigate the "abject breakdown at all levels" that led to the shooting deaths. The Republican said the commission, likely be led by a parent of one of the slain children, would have subpoena power.

    Corcoran said the news about the resource officer's failure to respond did not dissuade him from moving ahead with what he was calling the "marshal" plan to let local law-enforcement officials train and deputize someone at the school who would be authorized to carry a gun.

    State Sen. Bill Galvano, who is helping craft a bill in response to the shooting deaths, insisted the idea is not the same as arming teachers. He said the program would be optional and the deputized person would have to be trained by local law-enforcement agencies.

    U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said a visit to Stoneman Douglas prompted him to change his stance on large-capacity magazines. The Republican insisted he is willing to rethink his past opposition on gun proposals if there is information the policies would prevent mass shootings.

    "If we are going to infringe on the Second Amendment, it has to be a policy that will work," Rubio said in an interview Thursday with AP.