Tax collected on the sale of ammunition and guns would go into a “Safe Schools Trust Fund,” to pay for additional guidance services and school safety measures under legislation filed in the House.
Freshman Rep. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, filed two bills on Friday creating the trust fund and directing revenue from the existing tax on guns and ammo into it.
One of the bills filed by Stewart (HB 325), would also expand the ban on carrying guns at schools – widening the prohibition from school buildings to an area within 500 feet of a school – but would allow people to check their guns, exempting them from prosecution if they turn their gun in to someone when they arrive at a school.
While prohibiting the carrying of guns within the 500-foot buffers known as “school safety zones,” Stewart’s bill would allow anyone who is in such a zone to surrender their gun to a law enforcement officer or school official and not be charged under the ban, as long as they haven’t used the gun to violate the law in some way first.
The legislation also would require school districts to add school safety issues to their guidance plans for students in kindergarten through grade 5.
The money collected from the tax on guns and ammo sales would go to help pay for the additional guidance requirements and to pay for any expenses related to the change in the law prohibiting guns on school grounds.
If any money is left over, under one of Stewart’s bills (HB 327) it could go to “additional projects and programs to improve the safety of students,” though the bill doesn’t specify how.
Stewart’s proposal is likely to be only the first proposing to increase spending on school safety in the wake of the December school shootings in Newtown, Conn. The Senate last week discussed in committee some ideas for increasing school safety and how to pay for it.
The Senate appears likely to focus on school resource officers, police assigned to guard schools. But there was also talk of additional guidance counselors last week in the Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee.
–David Royse, News Service of Florida