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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: 308737

Reported Deaths: 7139
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20901250
Hinds19953410
Harrison17551302
Rankin13358276
Jackson13141243
Madison9949211
Lee9886170
Jones8308161
Forrest7537147
Lauderdale7221237
Lowndes6286144
Lamar613284
Lafayette6063117
Washington5288133
Bolivar4775129
Oktibbeha457097
Panola4456103
Pearl River4433141
Warren4294118
Marshall4283101
Pontotoc417572
Monroe4061132
Union404675
Neshoba4001176
Lincoln3883109
Hancock373385
Leflore3470124
Sunflower330789
Tate325082
Pike3205105
Scott311272
Yazoo304769
Alcorn298865
Itawamba297477
Copiah293965
Coahoma290378
Simpson289486
Tippah285168
Prentiss276559
Marion266279
Leake261473
Wayne261441
Grenada256284
Covington254980
Adams246882
Newton245561
George238347
Winston226081
Tishomingo222467
Jasper219948
Attala213573
Chickasaw205257
Holmes186972
Clay183054
Stone179531
Clarke177576
Tallahatchie175940
Calhoun165231
Yalobusha159736
Smith159234
Walthall131043
Greene129633
Lawrence126623
Noxubee126533
Montgomery125742
Perry125238
Carroll120926
Amite120741
Webster113732
Jefferson Davis105432
Tunica103025
Claiborne101330
Benton97425
Kemper95628
Humphreys94432
Franklin82723
Quitman78916
Choctaw73717
Wilkinson64928
Jefferson64828
Sharkey49817
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 521201

Reported Deaths: 10736
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson753981490
Mobile39011799
Madison34002496
Tuscaloosa25329444
Montgomery23996567
Shelby23160239
Baldwin20674302
Lee15567165
Calhoun14330311
Morgan14152271
Etowah13677346
Marshall11988220
Houston10402278
Elmore10008200
Limestone9843147
Cullman9501189
St. Clair9449234
Lauderdale9254228
DeKalb8756181
Talladega8104171
Walker7126275
Jackson6751110
Autauga6748103
Blount6511134
Colbert6225130
Coffee5418113
Dale4771111
Russell429338
Franklin420582
Chilton4100109
Covington4059114
Tallapoosa3904146
Escambia389574
Dallas3522149
Chambers3513122
Clarke346760
Marion3072100
Pike306176
Lawrence295395
Winston273072
Bibb256059
Marengo248261
Geneva245975
Pickens233059
Barbour226255
Hale218675
Butler212867
Fayette209460
Henry188044
Cherokee182544
Randolph177041
Monroe172440
Washington164738
Macon155548
Clay150055
Crenshaw149457
Cleburne146341
Lamar139634
Lowndes136553
Wilcox124527
Bullock121540
Conecuh109428
Perry107626
Sumter103232
Coosa99428
Greene91334
Choctaw58724
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