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Florida Governor Wants To Raise Age For Buying A Firearm To 21 And Require Armed Officers At All Schools

Gov. Rick Scott also wants to ban the sale of "bump stocks," which allow semiautomatic weapons to fire nearly as fast as machine guns, in response to the school shooting in Parkland.

Posted on February 23, 2018, at 3:28 p.m. ET

Colin Hackley / Reuters

Florida Governor Rick Scott on Friday called for raising the legal age to purchase a firearm to 21 and outlined his plan for increasing safety at school campuses more than a week after 17 people were killed by a shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

The current law, which allows those as young as 18 to purchase firearms, has been derided by critics who point out that people at that age can't even buy alcohol. The Florida shooter, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, legally purchased the AR-15 rifle that he used in the attack, authorities say.

But Scott said he would be working with state legislators to change that.

"Let me repeat: we will require all individuals purchasing firearms to be 21 or older," he said, adding that exceptions will be made for active duty and reserve military and their spouses, National Guard members, and law enforcement.

Anyone who is the subject of protective orders for stalking, cyberstalking, dating violence, repeat violence, sexual violence, or domestic violence should also be prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm, Scott said.

Family members pick up students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland after the shooting.
Wilfredo Lee / AP

Family members pick up students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland after the shooting.

The Republican governor also pledged $500 million to improve school safety and expand mental health care access to students. Part of the plan includes requiring one armed officer — either a sworn sheriff’s deputy or a police officer — for every 1,000 students at every school by the start of the 2018 school year in the fall.

The sole armed school resource deputy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which has a student population of more than 3,000, stood outside the building and did "nothing" as the shooter opened fire on students and teachers, authorities said this week.

The governor did not agree with President Trump's proposal to arm teachers with firearms as a deterrent and form of protection.

"I disagree with arming teachers. My focus is on bringing in law enforcement," he said. "We need to have individuals that are well trained."

Scott also wants schools to submit safety plans to their county sheriff's department yearly and hold active shooter scenario training drills at least once a semester.

Scott told reporters that he did not support banning AR-15s, saying "banning specific weapons and punishing law-abiding citizens isn't going to fix this." However, he did call for banning the sale of bump stocks, gun attachment devices which give semiautomatic firearms the ability to fire like machine guns.

Although bump stocks were not used in the Parkland shooting, they were used by Stephen Paddock to kill nearly 60 people in the Las Vegas shooting last year.

Mourners hug as they place flowers on a makeshift memorial for victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.
AFP / Getty Images

Mourners hug as they place flowers on a makeshift memorial for victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

The governor also proposed a new "Violent Threat Restraining Order" program, which would allow courts to prohibit people from buying or possessing a firearm if "a family member, community welfare expert, or law enforcement officer" presents evidence of a threat of violence involving firearms or other weapons.

The governor also proposed establishing funding to require every school in Florida to have dedicated mental health counselors.

"These counselors cannot serve dual roles, like teaching or academic advising," he said. "Every student must have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with a mental health professional, and receive ongoing counseling as needed."

Scott also wants to set up a tip hotline and mobile app to report concerns.

Survivors of the Parkland shooting had mixed reactions to Scott's plan.

I know you want to have this implemented right before your next election but please we need action now not in a year https://t.co/wfLHJI2oNs

He's trying to take @BillNelsonJrFL senate seat this is purely political we can't let that happen remember… https://t.co/jN1Rm4oGHx

We're so thankful that you understand what we're about here, this is not about getting rid of all guns, its about m… https://t.co/fmfFzweRrE


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