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After deadly shooting, Florida governor calls for raising minimum age to buy guns

A week after one of the deadliest mass shootings in modern US history, Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced ...

Posted: Feb 24, 2018 10:02 AM
Updated: Feb 24, 2018 10:02 AM

A week after one of the deadliest mass shootings in modern US history, Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced a comprehensive plan to keep students safe in his state, including suggestions to raise the minimum age to buy a gun, keep weapons out of the hands of the mentally ill and ban the sale of bump stocks.

A former student fatally shot 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on February 14, sparking renewed and heated debate over the middle point between Second Amendment rights and student safety.

"We must take care of our kids," Scott, a Republican, said at a news conference announcing his three-part plan.

Kai Koerber, a student at Stoneman Douglas who was there the day of the shooting, called the plan "a step in the right direction."

"This is not the end of the line, but we thank Governor Scott for hearing our concerns, and taking steps to secure a better future for the sons and daughters of tomorrow," he said.

The governor also called for tougher background checks and waiting periods to buy firearms; requiring mentally ill people who have been involuntarily committed to temporarily surrender weapons; and the allocation of hundreds of millions of dollars toward improving security in schools and mental health services.

"Keeping guns away from dangerous people and people with mental issues is what we need to do," he said.

"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."

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, a Democrat who was re-elected in 2016, was pleased with the news.

"Thank you Gov. Scott and state legislative leaders for proposing a gun and school safety package that incorporates nearly all the ideas (Broward Sheriff's Office) and other sheriffs suggested. This is a strong first step in giving us the proactive ability to keep Florida safer," his office tweeted from its verified account. The targeted high school is in Broward County.

Scott, who noted that he is a member of the National Rife Association, said he's not calling for a ban on all firearms.

"I know there are some who are advocating a mass takeaway of Second Amendment rights for all Americans. That is not the answer."

In response to questions about calls for a ban on AR-15-style rifles and other semiautomatic guns, the governor said that "banning specific weapons and punishing law abiding citizens is not going to fix this. What we have to do is we have to really focus on the problem. We've got to take all weapons away from people with mental illness, people who are threatening themselves or threatening others."

Part 1: Keep guns away from dangerous people

Scott said the plan will address strengthening gun laws to keep "guns away from dangerous and violent people."

-- Part of that includes creating a "Violent Threat Restraining Order," which permits a court "to prohibit a violent or mentally ill person from purchasing or possessing a firearm when either a family member, community welfare expert or law enforcement officer" presents evidence to the court of a threat of firearms violence.

-- It calls for strengthening "gun purchase and possession restrictions for mentally ill individuals under the Baker Act. If a court involuntarily commits someone for treatment under the Baker Act because they are at risk of harming themselves or others, an individual would be required to surrender all firearms and not regain their right to purchase or possess a firearm until a court hearing."

-- People who "are subject to an injunction for protection against stalking, cyberstalking, dating violence, repeat violence, sexual violence, or domestic violence" would be prohibited from possessing or buying a firearm.

-- Enhanced criminal penalties should be created for threats to schools, including "social media threats of shootings or bombings." It also calls for enhanching "penalties if any person possesses or purchases a gun after they have been deemed by state law to not have access to a gun."

-- Exceptions on the age for firearms purchasing include active duty and reserve military and spouses, National Guard members, and law enforcement.

Scott said he disagrees with the notion of arming educators, saying teachers should teach and police should police.

"My focus is on bringing in law enforcement. I think you need to have individuals that are trained, well-trained. My focus is let law enforcement do the keeping us safe and let teachers focus on teaching."

Part 2: Keeping students safe

Scott proposed a $450 million initiative for student safety, calling for the presence of a resource officer in every public school and giving sheriffs' departments the power "to train additional school personnel or reserve law enforcement officers" if local school boards ask.

The plan requires "mandatory active shooter training" and says faculty and students must be involved in "active shooter drills." It calls for an increase in funding for safe school infrastructure, such as metal detectors, steel doors and upgraded locks.

Scott called for an anonymous K-12 "See Something, Say Something" hotline, website and mobile app, funding "to require access to dedicated mental health counselors to provide direct counseling services," the creation of "threat assessment" teams at each school, and "crisis intervention training for all school personnel."

Part 3: Expand mental health initiatives

The plan outlines a $50 million allocation for mental health initiatives, including the expansion of mental health service teams, a Department of Children and Families case manager embedded in every sheriff's department, and matching grants for sheriff's offices to set up special law enforcement teams to work with DCF case managers.

"There is nothing more important than the safety of our children. Our kids deserve nothing less. Fortunately, our economy is booming, and we have the resources to protect our schools and our students. And, if providing this funding means we won't be able to cut taxes this year -- so be it. And, if we have to give up some of the projects we all hold near and dear -- so be it," the governor said.

Stoneman Douglas students speak up

Koerber wasn't pleased with the proposal to give sheriffs' departments the authority to train "additional school personnel" if local school boards request it:

"Gov. Scott's Action Plan proposes the arming of teachers, if that is the wish of the district. In no way do I, or any of my friends, feel that the arming of teachers is a solution to the issue of gun violence in schools.

"Nonetheless, we are very happy to see the implementation of a gold standard age for the purchase of firearms, as well as the placement of more law enforcement officers based on the population of a school campus."

Kyle Kashuv said he is "a bit concerned over the infringement of Second Amendment rights," a reference to the requirement that people be 21 or over to buy firearms.

"When you are 18 you are legally tried as an adult yet you are not considered mentally fit for a weapon."

But he favors other aspects on the plan, including the waiting period for background checks, extra school resource officers, mental health funding, the hotline and school building improvements.

"I think mental health and background checks are necessary," he said, adding that he also understands why the bump stock ban is necessary.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 263023

Reported Deaths: 5752
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17675191
Hinds16813331
Harrison14224204
Rankin11167219
Jackson10839190
Lee9050144
Madison8568168
Jones6668114
Forrest6177124
Lauderdale6097192
Lowndes5518120
Lafayette516298
Lamar503965
Washington4923125
Bolivar4104109
Oktibbeha405982
Panola384881
Pontotoc376258
Warren3674103
Monroe3671108
Union355663
Marshall355270
Neshoba3485154
Pearl River3468105
Leflore3111109
Lincoln305688
Hancock291862
Sunflower291475
Tate279662
Alcorn272354
Pike268981
Itawamba268063
Scott259648
Yazoo255256
Prentiss252553
Tippah249250
Copiah249049
Coahoma248054
Simpson242171
Leake237367
Grenada223272
Marion222073
Covington219973
Adams213671
Wayne212634
Winston207371
George204339
Newton199046
Attala196963
Tishomingo194161
Chickasaw189044
Jasper179538
Holmes171768
Clay165837
Tallahatchie156235
Stone151425
Clarke147262
Calhoun140822
Smith129226
Yalobusha122034
Walthall114337
Greene113529
Noxubee112926
Montgomery111636
Carroll106622
Lawrence106517
Perry104531
Amite101426
Webster96124
Tunica88821
Claiborne88325
Jefferson Davis88329
Benton85623
Humphreys84624
Kemper80520
Quitman7089
Franklin69917
Choctaw63213
Wilkinson59825
Jefferson56821
Sharkey45117
Issaquena1606
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 439442

Reported Deaths: 6657
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson644371007
Mobile31435569
Madison28158217
Tuscaloosa21492275
Montgomery19873332
Shelby19248132
Baldwin17128189
Lee13137107
Morgan12594142
Etowah12070181
Calhoun11496206
Marshall10420123
Houston8988164
Limestone832081
Cullman8257124
Elmore8183110
DeKalb7871107
Lauderdale7847107
St. Clair7808130
Talladega6445112
Walker6028183
Jackson599145
Colbert548694
Blount546286
Autauga535862
Coffee460764
Dale409685
Franklin374150
Russell354215
Chilton344373
Covington338580
Escambia334544
Tallapoosa3143109
Dallas312996
Chambers303470
Clarke298036
Pike262431
Lawrence253355
Marion253161
Winston233342
Bibb222348
Geneva210247
Marengo208231
Pickens199531
Hale184944
Barbour180538
Fayette177829
Butler173160
Cherokee165131
Henry159525
Monroe152021
Randolph145536
Washington141727
Clay129746
Crenshaw123745
Macon121937
Cleburne121525
Lamar119922
Lowndes114836
Wilcox107922
Bullock103328
Perry99918
Conecuh97822
Sumter90527
Greene77923
Coosa63418
Choctaw51924
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