House prepares to vote on school safety bill, members receive message from Parkland families

by | Mar 7, 2018

The Florida House is expected to vote Wednesday on a $400 million school safety bill that would put more money into mental health services, harden school facilities in the state and toughen gun laws in an effort to prevent another mass shooting like what happened in Parkland three weeks ago today.

Family members sent a message to representatives Tuesday urging them to pass the bill.

“We are the families of the victims killed in the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018. We strongly urge you to support the passage of SB 7026 ‐ Public Safety,” the families wrote to House members. “You must act to prevent mass murder from ever occurring again at any school. This issue cannot wait. The moment to pass this bill is now.”

The House took up the legislation on second reading Tuesday and spent hours debating the bill on the floor. Democrats spoke out against the legislation saying it doesn’t go far enough in some areas and too far in others. Specifically, Democrats are angered that the measure does not include a ban on assault style weapons, like the AR-15 authorities say 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz used when he entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and opened fired, killing 17 students and teachers. They say a ban is what the families of the victims of the Parkland shootings want.

But, in their message to lawmakers, the families urge House members to pass the bill.

“We must be the last families to suffer the loss of a loved one due to a mass shooting at a school. We demand action by the entire Florida Legislature to keep our schools safe,”’ they wrote.

Another area of contention is a program designed to train certain school personnel who are specially trained certified by law enforcement to carry concealed weapons on campus to help protect students in the event of an active shooter. Critics oppose the measure saying it places more guns in schools.

The Senate voted on Monday to exclude classroom teachers from the so-called “marshal program,” which it renamed the Aaron Feis Guardian Program. Feis was the football coach who was killed in the Parkland attack using his body to shield students from bullets.

Gov. Rick Scott has said he would oppose any school safety legislation that would call for the arming of teachers.

Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association continues to oppose the measure, sending an “emergency alert” to its members in Florida on Tuesday.

“The bill in NOW IN THE HOUSE where House leadership is trying to bully Second Amendment supporters to get them to vote for the gun control package,” the NRA’s alert said.

Gun rights advocates oppose the portion of the legislation that toughens gun laws, including the establishment of a three-day waiting period on gun sales, raising the minimum age 21 for buying any firearm in Florida, and a ban on the sale of bump stocks.

 

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