In the wake of the deadly shooting attack at a Florida high school, Gov. Rick Scott is seeking $500 million in new funding for school safety and mental health programs.
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that Scott also has called for called for major changes in who can buy a gun—banning the sale of firearms to anyone younger than 21. In addition the governor is proposing a new type of violent threat restraining order that would allow authorities to confiscate firearms from someone who makes threats and to hold someone’s firearms for 60 days after they’ve been involuntarily committed.
Scott's proposals come two weeks after a gunman armed with the semi-automatic assault rifle shot 17 people to death and wounded another 15 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Nikolas Cruz, 19, a former student at the school, has been charged with murder.
Of the $500 million in new funding, $450 million would go to school safety, including plans to put a police officer in every school, at a ratio of one officer per 1,000 students on campus. With about 3,200 students, Stoneman Douglas had one officer on site.
The remainder of the funding under Scott’s plan would go toward mental health initiatives, including the hiring of 67 new employees at the Department of Children and Families, each of whom would be embedded in a county sheriff’s department as crisis social welfare workers to deal with repeat cases.
In Scott's proposal, the state would pay for some of the safety improvements by abandoning a proposed $180 million in tax cuts that were included in this year’s budget.
Other aspects of the proposal:
•The state would ban bump stocks, an accessory that enables semi-automatic rifles to fire at almost automatic rates.
•Active shooter training would be mandatory at all schools.
•Funding would be earmarked for metal detectors, bulletproof glass, locks and other safety improvements.
Scott's proposal would not ban assault weapons or high-capacity magazines, both of which are being called for by many students who survived the Stoneman Douglas shooting.
“Banning specific weapons and punishing law abiding citizens is not going to fix this,” Scott says. “What we have to do is really focus on the problem – we’ve got to take all weapons away from people with mental illness, people who have violently threatened others.”
Last week, Republican lawmakers announced their own plan, which had many similarities to Scott’s, but two key differences.
First, the Legislature’s plan would not only raise the age limit to buy a firearm to 21 years, but also require a three-day waiting period for all firearm purchases.
The legislative plan also would allow teachers that have completed all the training required of a law enforcement officer to carry firearms in schools.
“I disagree with arming the teachers,” Scott says. “My focus is on bringing in law enforcement. I think you have to have individuals who are well trained.”