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NRA Files Challenge Moments After Gov. Scott Signs School-Safety and Gun-Control Bill

| March 9, 2018

Gov. Rick Scott was flanked by parents of teenagers killed at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine's Day when he signed the school-safety law. (NSF)

Gov. Rick Scott was flanked by parents of teenagers killed at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day when he signed the school-safety law. (NSF)

Flanked by the parents of Broward County teenagers slain in the nation’s second-worst school shooting, Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a sweeping package addressing mental health, school safety and guns.

Immediately, the National Rifle Association filed a lawsuit in federal court to challenge the new law, which raises the age from 18 to 21 and imposes a three-day waiting period for the purchase of rifles and other long guns. The age and waiting-period requirements already apply to buying handguns, but the NRA contends that the new restrictions on rifles are unconstitutional.

Scott’s signature came after weeks of intensely emotional advocacy by students, educators and families of the 17 people shot dead by 19-year-old gunman Nikolas Cruz at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

The parents accompanying Scott on Friday praised the governor and lawmakers for the unprecedented speed in passing the legislation, just three weeks after the Feb. 14 massacre.

“To everyone that’s watching out there, I wish I could tell you that I’m happy. But how could we be happy? He buried his sister, and I buried my daughter. To me, this is a start for us,” Andrew Pollack, accompanied by his son Hunter, told reporters after Scott signed the school-safety package (SB 7026).

Pollack, whose 18-year-old daughter, Meadow, was among the 14 students killed, said he and other parents plan “on moving forward and hitting every other state to make sure they follow the lead of Florida.”

Speaking on behalf of the 17 families, Tony Montalto, whose 14-year-old daughter, Gina, was killed, called the new law the “beginning of the journey” to prevent “future acts of horrific school violence.”

“We have paid a terrible price for this progress. We call on more states, to follow Florida’s lead, and create meaningful legislation to make all schools safer. This time must be different,” he said.

Scott said the measure addressed all of the issues highlighted by the tragedy.

“Will this bill make a huge investment and dramatically improve school safety, in the hopes of never seeing another tragedy like this again? Will this bill provide more funding to treat the mentally ill? Will this bill give far more tools to keep guns away from people who should not have them? The answer to all three is yes. That is why I am signing the legislation today,” Scott, said, as media from across the nation, crammed into the governor’s office, looked on.

The $400 million package kindled political and ideological divisions for lawmakers already on edge after the heart-wrenching testimony from the shooting survivors and parents of the 14 slain students and three faculty members. The gun-related provisions in the legislation — or those left out — overshadowed other elements of the bill.

Democrats were split on what many considered a “poison pill” that allows specially trained teachers and other school personnel, deputized by sheriffs, to bring guns to school. School boards and sheriffs would have to agree to implement the program for it to go into effect. Teachers who work “exclusively” in the classroom would be excluded from the program, but those who have additional duties, such as drama coaches, would be eligible.

For some, the legislation marked an important first step toward stricter gun regulations and a vital response to the Parkland community’s demand for action.

But for others, the “school guardian” program was a deal-breaker.

Calling the program “scary,” black legislators objected that it would endanger minority children who are more likely to be punished at school. And the state teachers’ union asked Scott for a veto, saying the proposal allowing more than 200,000 school personnel to qualify to bring guns on campus would “do more harm than good.”

“We had to make a choice. Compromise is messy, especially when both chambers are controlled by Republicans,” Rep. Jared Moskowitz, a Coral Springs Democrat who graduated from the Parkland high school and who was present for the bill signing, told The News Service of Florida.

In addition to the new restrictions on purchasing rifles and other long guns, the new law also bans the sale or possession of “bump stocks,” which allow semi-automatic rifles to mimic fully automatic weapons. And it gives law enforcement officials the ability to seek court orders to seize weapons from people who pose a danger to themselves or others.

“So, in the totality of things, the guardian program is optional. I am hoping a lot of counties don’t opt in, and I am hoping a lot of teachers also don’t opt in. At the end of the day, we’ll be left with a really good gun-control, gun-reform bill in the state of Florida,” Moskowitz said.

But many frustrated Democrats also rejected the proposal because it failed to include a ban on assault–style weapons, such as the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle Cruz used to mow down students and teachers at the school he once attended.

On the other side of the aisle, the new regulations on purchasing firearms — the first gun restrictions approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature in nearly two decades — divided the GOP caucus. The NRA’s Florida lobbyist Marion Hammer, a former national president of the gun-rights group, branded those who voted for the proposal as “turncoat Republicans” who “caved to bullying and coercion.”

“(Scott) put his hand on a bible and took an oath to support, protect and defend the Constitution,” Hammer said in a telephone interview Friday. “So Gov. Scott obviously has a hard time keeping his word.”

The federal challenge accuses the state of “violating the constitutional rights of young adults between the ages of 18 and 21 years,” Hammer said.

After the legislation was proposed, Scott repeatedly objected to the three-day waiting period and allowing teachers to be armed.

But the governor said Friday he and others had to compromise, acknowledging that the gun regulations went too far for some and not far enough for others. He said

“I know the debate on all these issues will continue, and that’s healthy in our democracy. People are passionate in their beliefs and they should be. But, we should not insult or disparage each other. We should work together to make our schools safe for our kids. We have a lot of work ahead of us in order to enact these reforms and make our schools safer. This is a time for all of us to come together, roll up our sleeves, and get it done,” he said.

–Dara Kam, News Service of Florida

12 Responses for “NRA Files Challenge Moments After Gov. Scott Signs School-Safety and Gun-Control Bill”

  1. TryingToComprehendAllThis says:

    You can VOTE at 18. You can drive at 18. You can join the military at 18. You can get married t 18. You can fly a plane at 16.

    BUT you cannot own a gun at 18?

    Thank God this Governor is leaving office.

  2. Sherry says:

    Here’s a link to the AP News story on this:

    Those of you who routinely defend the “HORRIFIC” NRA. . . no matter what. . . take a close read. The NRA leadership (not ALL of their members), seems to have no problem with the murder of innocent children, as long as their massive profits keep pouring in.

    Face it. . . this is NOT about second amendment rights at all. It’s all about PROFITS! As the greed of the wealthy place the “golden calf” of MONEY over HUMAN LIVES!

    Completely SICK and DISGUSTING! Vote anyone out who sides with the NRA!

  3. beachcomberT says:

    Minor steps but at least some progress toward making schools safer. I would rather see deputy sheriffs patrolling school hallways and school perimeters. Instead, the sheriffs have passed the buck to the teachers

  4. David S. says:

    The Hell with the NRA…..

  5. Richard says:

    Glad to see that Florida is taking the lead in making changes that will never see the light of day. They should have concentrated more on making changes to what the REAL problems were in the Parkland massacre by addressing the lack of follow-up by federal, state and LOCAL law enforcement plus addressing the mental health issue. But hell THEY never want to omit that THEY were wrong and always point the blame at someone else namely the NRA. Did the NRA pull the trigger?

  6. Another Ritchie says:

    Is there another “NRA” equivalent in any other place outside the USA?

  7. AL says:

    Assault weapons are not covered under the 2nd Amendment:

    “ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland’s ban on 45 kinds of assault weapons and its 10-round limit on gun magazines were upheld Tuesday by a federal appeals court in a decision that met with a strongly worded dissent.

    In a 10-4 ruling, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, said the guns banned under Maryland’s law aren’t protected by the Second Amendment.

    “Put simply, we have no power to extend Second Amendment protections to weapons of war,” Judge Robert King wrote for the court, adding that the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller explicitly excluded such coverage.”

  8. Geezer says:

    Begining with the Beltway Shooter through the Coral Springs mass shooting, AR-15 sales spiked.
    In Lee County sales are reportedly higher than before the Cruz kid went on his shooting spree.
    So much for public disgust….. So if I manufacture a weapon used in a mass murder—I can expect a sales bonanza as part of the aftermath.

    Our society is diseased.

    One day when I am no more, my guns will be destroyed per my will without regard to caliber or value.
    My M1 will be donated to a veterans organization.

    Does anyone in his right mind want their kid going to a scool with armed teachers?
    Imagine a stressed out teacher snapping and killing his students?
    It’s not far-fetched.

    Peace to you and your precious families.

  9. Pogo says:

    @ Another Ritchie

    Q: Is there another “NRA” equivalent in any other place outside the USA?

    A: No.

    Someday, the NRA will take its well deserved place of shame next to the tobacco companies, the industrialists who poisoned the air and used any body of water or stream they pleased as a chemical dump – and all the other killers of their ilk.

    In the meantime it will continue as a cesspool of racism, xenophobia, nationalism, religious fanaticism, and fascism – aka CPAC. The NRA is CPAC – and vice versa. Little Marco spoke the truth, the NRA doesn’t bribe politicians: The NRA is a mob that the wealthy literally use to intimidate and extort politicians.

    trump repeatedly goes on record, with the entire planet as a witness, openly encouraging violence against anyone who protests him; and encourages a national meeting of law enforcement officers to rough up people they arrest. Putin’s lips didn’t move when trump declared, at a cabinet room conference, take the guns first – then have the due process. The NRA has dinner with their spray tanned stooge and explains to him in private what the dumb struck prisoners at the conference didn’t have the courage to speak – and trump’s followers notice none of it.

    This country has gone from a place where sportsmen, hunters, and marksmen prized long guns with integral magazines that held 4 to 6 rounds of ammunition to a place where any slob with enough money can buy a 30 or 100 round detachable magazine and fill it with armor piercing cop killer ammo.

    In less than 40 years we have come from the time when surplus military rifles were a starting point: The worn military gun stock and its steel butt plate that soldiers were trained to use as a skull crushing bludgeon was replaced with a sport stock with a recoil pad on its butt. The objective was to remove a long gun’s military appearance and functions, e.g., bayonet charges and convert it too a civilian weapon.The NRA and gun manufacturers have turned all that upside down with a slick rhetorical gimmick – modern battlefield weapons, with only the full automatic selector not included, are now “modern sport rifles” and anyone who points out the obvious is mocked and dismissed with another rhetorical gimmick – you’re opposed to “scary looking weapons”. Wrong. We object to massacres – and the people who equip the murderers.

    While it was once a criminal offense almost everywhere to parade down a sidewalk with a gun in view – the NRA now tirelessly campaigns for open carry as normal. If you don’t understand that this is a naked move to empower its, i.e., the NRA, members to engage in armed public intimidation – you are truly not paying attention.

    Wake up. Vote them out.

  10. Dave says:

    Great, but doesnt go far enough on assualt weapons ban. 18 is definitely to young to own a gun

  11. David S. says:

    Pogo, Amen couldn’t agree with you more…

  12. Sherry says:

    Thank you my friend Geezer, and Pogo. . . right on, as usual!

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