Scott Signs School Safety Bill; NRA Launches Challenge

March 10, 2018

Flanked by the parents of Broward County teenagers slain in the nation’s second-worst school shooting, Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a sweeping package addressing mental health, school safety and guns.

Immediately, the National Rifle Association filed a lawsuit in federal court to challenge the new law, which raises the age from 18 to 21 and imposes a three-day waiting period for the purchase of rifles and other long guns. The age and waiting-period requirements already apply to buying handguns, but the NRA contends that the new restrictions on rifles are unconstitutional.

Scott’s signature came after weeks of intensely emotional advocacy by students, educators and families of the 17 people shot dead by 19-year-old gunman Nikolas Cruz at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

The parents accompanying Scott on Friday praised the governor and lawmakers for the unprecedented speed in passing the legislation, just three weeks after the Feb. 14 massacre.

“To everyone that’s watching out there, I wish I could tell you that I’m happy. But how could we be happy? He buried his sister, and I buried my daughter. To me, this is a start for us,” Andrew Pollack, accompanied by his son Hunter, told reporters after Scott signed the school-safety package (SB 7026).

Pollack, whose 18-year-old daughter, Meadow, was among the 14 students killed, said he and other parents plan “on moving forward and hitting every other state to make sure they follow the lead of Florida.”

Speaking on behalf of the 17 families, Tony Montalto, whose 14-year-old daughter, Gina, was killed, called the new law the “beginning of the journey” to prevent “future acts of horrific school violence.”

“We have paid a terrible price for this progress. We call on more states, to follow Florida’s lead, and create meaningful legislation to make all schools safer. This time must be different,” he said.

Scott said the measure addressed all of the issues highlighted by the tragedy.

“Will this bill make a huge investment and dramatically improve school safety, in the hopes of never seeing another tragedy like this again? Will this bill provide more funding to treat the mentally ill? Will this bill give far more tools to keep guns away from people who should not have them? The answer to all three is yes. That is why I am signing the legislation today,” Scott, said, as media from across the nation, crammed into the governor’s office, looked on.

The $400 million package kindled political and ideological divisions for lawmakers already on edge after the heart-wrenching testimony from the shooting survivors and parents of the 14 slain students and three faculty members. The gun-related provisions in the legislation — or those left out — overshadowed other elements of the bill.

Democrats were split on what many considered a “poison pill” that allows specially trained teachers and other school personnel, deputized by sheriffs, to bring guns to school. School boards and sheriffs would have to agree to implement the program for it to go into effect. Teachers who work “exclusively” in the classroom would be excluded from the program, but those who have additional duties, such as drama coaches, would be eligible.

For some, the legislation marked an important first step toward stricter gun regulations and a vital response to the Parkland community’s demand for action.

But for others, the “school guardian” program was a deal-breaker.

Calling the program “scary,” black legislators objected that it would endanger minority children who are more likely to be punished at school. And the state teachers’ union asked Scott for a veto, saying the proposal allowing more than 200,000 school personnel to qualify to bring guns on campus would “do more harm than good.”

“We had to make a choice. Compromise is messy, especially when both chambers are controlled by Republicans,” Rep. Jared Moskowitz, a Coral Springs Democrat who graduated from the Parkland high school and who was present for the bill signing, told The News Service of Florida.

In addition to the new restrictions on purchasing rifles and other long guns, the new law also bans the sale or possession of “bump stocks,” which allow semi-automatic rifles to mimic fully automatic weapons. And it gives law enforcement officials the ability to seek court orders to seize weapons from people who pose a danger to themselves or others.

“So, in the totality of things, the guardian program is optional. I am hoping a lot of counties don’t opt in, and I am hoping a lot of teachers also don’t opt in. At the end of the day, we’ll be left with a really good gun-control, gun-reform bill in the state of Florida,” Moskowitz said.

But many frustrated Democrats also rejected the proposal because it failed to include a ban on assault–style weapons, such as the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle Cruz used to mow down students and teachers at the school he once attended.

On the other side of the aisle, the new regulations on purchasing firearms — the first gun restrictions approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature in nearly two decades — divided the GOP caucus. The NRA’s Florida lobbyist Marion Hammer, a former national president of the gun-rights group, branded those who voted for the proposal as “turncoat Republicans” who “caved to bullying and coercion.”

“(Scott) put his hand on a bible and took an oath to support, protect and defend the Constitution,” Hammer said in a telephone interview Friday. “So Gov. Scott obviously has a hard time keeping his word.”

The federal challenge accuses the state of  “violating the constitutional rights of young adults between the ages of 18 and 21 years,” Hammer said.

After the legislation was proposed, Scott repeatedly objected to the three-day waiting period and allowing teachers to be armed.

But the governor said Friday he and others had to compromise, acknowledging that the gun regulations went too far for some and not far enough for others. He said

“I know the debate on all these issues will continue, and that’s healthy in our democracy. People are passionate in their beliefs and they should be. But, we should not insult or disparage each other. We should work together to make our schools safe for our kids. We have a lot of work ahead of us in order to enact these reforms and make our schools safer. This is a time for all of us to come together, roll up our sleeves, and get it done,” he said.

by Dara Kam, The News Service of Florida


24 Responses to “Scott Signs School Safety Bill; NRA Launches Challenge”

  1. robert on March 13th, 2018 5:48 pm

    And where is the ACLU? the so called great civil defenders? No where. it does not fit their agenda. so my NRA will do it, Old enough to vote, join law enforcement , and fight for this great country! then they have the right to own fire arms. The Constitution of the United States, is not to be cherry picked for ones own agenda. Its called discrimination, that is illegal. Very good commits here.

  2. Bring it on on March 11th, 2018 8:35 pm

    Thank you NRA..

  3. Bama on March 11th, 2018 5:57 pm

    To you folks that think the NRA is the bad guy. Who has killed more people, the NRA or Planned Parenthood.

  4. Bob C. on March 11th, 2018 10:50 am

    Remember your feelings when Mr. Scott runs for US Congress.

  5. BB on March 11th, 2018 8:30 am

    So we have deputies and law officers, specifically FHP, under the age of 21 who are executing law on the part of our society, who carry guns and rifles. We also have all military branches who are weapons trained from the age of 18 and are executing their skills. So they can carry their guns at work but can’t use them on their own time Or purchase weapons until age 21 when they’re already using them?? How STUPID is this??

  6. BB on March 11th, 2018 8:10 am

    You have deputies and officers that are younger than 21, specifically FHP. They carry guns, rifles and execute the law on behalf of our society. Our military are weapons trained and executing them justly long before the age of 21! What shall we say to our law officers and deputies and military?? You can carry a gun at work but not anywhere else???? How STUPID IS THIS?????

  7. Jr on March 11th, 2018 1:06 am

    I am very disappointed in Mr Scott.

  8. Bring it on on March 10th, 2018 8:34 pm

    Just like always everytime there’s a shooting the law abiding citizens are penalized. The powers that be always rush into something without thinking it through. They don’t care about what happened it’s just another chance to push their political agenda. The people we elect are on thinking only about the next vote.. My grandson is 20 and in the military guarding your very freedoms with a firearm. ..I guess he should try to defend his country with a stick until he’s 21. Way to go NRA!!!!

  9. Tabby on March 10th, 2018 7:54 pm

    @Read the 2nd amendment
    Read is exactly what you should do. We should no doubt be able to own any weapon our government has. It’s really that simple. However, none of this even matters. In another 20 years, nobody will care about the 2nd amendment, they’ll be addicted to their phones, computers, and gadgets (worshipping the image of the beast). Controlled by Hollywood, MSM, music industry, and the rest of the liberal communists who don’t even know their communist. Sick to see these kids spouting and believing what Google said. Or what some liberal actor says. Like sheep.

  10. D.M.A. on March 10th, 2018 2:58 pm
  11. nod on March 10th, 2018 1:11 pm

    uncle sam can put a gun in the hands of 18 year olds and say go kill and when they get home they cannot own a gun or buy a drink. what a country we live in.

  12. Don Neese on March 10th, 2018 12:41 pm

    “the governor said Friday he and others had to compromise”

    327,000,000 people in the US alone and growing by 2,000,000 more every year. Some crazy people are sweet, others are just down right mean. The more people, the more crazy people. We’re overcrowded, overpopulated and overstressed because of it. Governing this amount of people is next to impossible. And very soon will be impossible. I do not agree with the governor, but I cannot begin to presume the amount of pressure he is under.

    I believe the firearm debate will become a moot point in the near future.

  13. Bonnie Exner on March 10th, 2018 12:04 pm


  14. David Huie Green on March 10th, 2018 11:39 am

    “A Well Regulated!! The NRA has gone to far. The amendment says nothing about owning any and all guns that the manufactures can come up with. Guns rights doesn’t mean no regulations. A Well Regulated.”

    “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

    The introductory clause explains the reasoning behind the restriction. It does not restrict the right to whatever the government — any government — decides to allow.

    The NRA has nothing to do with it. The Constitution does. I am not nor have I ever been involved with the NRA, but it is composed of American citizens seeking to retain their Constitutionally guaranteed right to assemble, speak, and seek redress of wrongs under the Constitution.

    “The amendment says nothing about owning any and all guns that the manufactures can come up with.”
    True, it doesn’t limit the limitation when it says “shall not be infringed.” ANY infringement is forbidden by that enumerated right.

    “Guns rights doesn’t mean no regulations.”
    Maybe not, but “shall not be infringed” DOES. Regulations infringe.

    David for literacy

  15. David Huie Green on March 10th, 2018 11:23 am

    “The federal challenge accuses the state of “violating the constitutional rights of young adults between the ages of 18 and 21 years,” Hammer said.”

    Amendment 14
    Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

    Just looking at it from a Constitutional viewpoint:

    “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; without due process of law”

    abridge DEFINITION:
    LAW curtail (rights or privileges).

    So individual civil rights can be curtailed ONLY with cause.
    The Bill o Rights spells out some of those rights, including the one in question.

    Consider it by extension. Raise the age to 45, change the right to freedom of the press. Or, rather than abridge by age, do it by sex or race. Just ain’t right.

    And if you think the matter is too important to be limited by law, you have already shown why it isn’t.
    Rights aren’t given by the government; they are retained by the people.

    David for a law-abiding government

  16. Jim on March 10th, 2018 10:04 am

    A knee-jerk reaction to placate certain liberal factions without addressing any real problems. Denying 18- through 20-year olds constitutional rights while requiring other things from them to support it is wrong and wrong-headed. A slippery slope, and we’re riding down it.

  17. read the 2nd amendment on March 10th, 2018 10:03 am

    A Well Regulated!! The NRA has gone to far. The amendment says nothing about owning any and all guns that the manufactures can come up with. Guns rights doesn’t mean no regulations. A Well Regulated.

    Someone that’s in the military will be well trained in the use of guns, that person will be checked for mental fitness.

    As long as we have no real background checks (all sales) and asks the right questions ( mental health and felon) we will have this problems. This is a start in the right direction.

    Adults have a right to own guns! Others have rights too! The NRA has gone too far!

  18. Scott on March 10th, 2018 9:57 am

    I don’t remember reading that the killer bought his gun within the days leading up to the shooting….Don’t know how any of the gun restrictions are going to stop someone from murder!!! Murder is against the law right so why would anyone think someone who is going to commit murder would follow any law??? People wake up! You want to stop school shootings???? Then stop sending kids to buildings with billboards that shout to any one sick enough to kill kids that this building is gun free zone….no one here could defend themselves so come on in! Oh and as far as guns….The largest mass killings in American history were done with PLANES AND FERTILIZER! THE PERSON IS THE PROBLEM NOT THE TOOL THEY USE!

  19. Jimmy on March 10th, 2018 9:27 am

    Rick Scott has got to go! This is just the latest in a long list of bad ideas he has pushed through. He always bypasses the common sense solution for the dumb one that he thinks will make him look good. Vote him out!

  20. barrineau on March 10th, 2018 8:58 am

    So ….blame an inanimate object over the behavior of the person . Age limits and waiting periods will stop nothing. This is just slowly chipping away at our 2nd amendment right.

  21. Sehoy on March 10th, 2018 8:24 am

    “A well regulated militia’s right to bear arms is not the equivalent of everybody and his brother having the right to own and use a killing machine in contravention of children and innocent people’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The NRA is the devil’s own advocate putting assaut rife ownership over the rights of students who shouldn’t be in fear of their lives while attending school. Our forefathers would be horrified if they knew how Scalia perverted and twisted the meaning of the 2nd Amendment.

  22. Dues Vult on March 10th, 2018 6:43 am

    I encourage all of you to go read SB7026(this bill) and see how badly it’s written. A bump stock is defined as any accessory capable of increasing rate of fire and due process is removed. Please support your 2nd amendment advocacy groups. That shooting happened because that district was NOT arresting problem kids, becuase they were trying to show off ending “school to prison” pipeline. The kids didn’t get better, they just getting in trouble

  23. dlj7000 on March 10th, 2018 6:24 am

    What a world we live in. You can’t buy a gun in Florida until your 21, but a 18,19,20 year old can join the Army, the U.S. Government will give them a gun and tell them we may send you some where that you may have to shoot someone.

  24. Michelle on March 10th, 2018 5:54 am

    I’ve said it before and I will say it again, Guns are not the problem. it’s a godless problem,

Have a comment on this story?

We welcome your comments on this story, but there are some rules to follow::

(1) Be Nice. No comments that slander another, no racism, no sexism, no personal attacks.

(2) No Harrassing Comments. If someone says something bad about you, don't respond. That's childish.

(3) No Libel. That's saying something is not true about someone. Don't do it.

(4) Keep it clean. Nothing vulgar, obscene or sexually related. No profanity or obvious substitutions. Period.

(5) reserves the right to remove any comments that violate our rules or we think to be inappropriate. We are not responsible for what is posted. Comments may not appear right away until they are approved by a moderator.

(6) Limit your comments to the subject in this story only, and limit comments to 300 words or less. Do not post copyrighted material. Comments will not be added to stories that are over 30 days old.

(7) No posts may advertise a commercial business or political group, or link to another commercial web site or political site of any kind.