Gov. Rick Scott is set to release what his office calls an “action plan to make major changes to help keep Florida students safe.” The plan that Scott will release at a news conference later this morning at the Capitol will include school safety improvements and keeping guns away from individuals struggling with mental illness.
Following last week’s school shootings in Parkland in which 17 people were killed–14 students and three students–Scott said it was time to have a “real conversation” about the issue of school safety. He called law enforcement, educators and mental health experts from across the state to Tallahassee this past Tuesday for a series of emergency meetings to look for answers to the problem.
The issue of school safety is expected to dominate the final two weeks of this year’s legislative session which is scheduled to end March 9. In addition to Scott’s plan, the House and Senate are preparing their own school safety packages. They are all expected to include similar proposals: increasing school security, improving mental health services in schools and local communities, and raising the minimum age to 21 for a person to be allowed to buy a semiautomatic assault weapon.
Among the suggestions that came from this week’s meetings was a proposal to arm and train teachers and school staff to help protect students. The idea received the support of Senate President Joe Negron on Thursday.
“I am open to the idea of having properly credentialed, properly trained teachers, retired military, retired law enforcement members that have the appropriate training and background tests done, psychological evaluations, to have them in our schools to provide additional security,” said Negron, R-Stuart. “That’s something that I could support.”
Improving mental health care has been one area where there has been agreement among state leaders that something needs to be done.
Authorities say 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz had a long history of mental health issues before he allegedly walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last week and opened fire with an AR-15 assault rifle. Officials say there were many signs that should have caused authorities to flag Cruz as a troubled individual that was a threat to others.
Even the FBI received a tip in early January regarding regarding “Cruz’s gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting.” But the FBI never followed up on the tip. Scott has called for the resignation of the agency’s Director Christopher Wray and Thursday afternoon the governor renewed his call for the FBI to release details about what happened.
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