Less than a month after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School killed 17 people in February 2018, then-Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature came together quickly to pass a major gun-safety bill that required every public school to post an armed officer, or “guardian,” on campus by that fall.
Now, as he serves in the U.S. Senate, Scott has filed federal legislation, the School Guardian Act, which would create a block grant program to be run through the Department of Justice to support hiring law enforcement officers to provide full-time security at every K-12 school in the country.
“We have the resources to do this,” Scott told reporters in Hillsborough County on Monday. “Why wouldn’t we put a trained law enforcement officer in every school? Not just public schools. In Florida we did that with public schools. But in every school in the country, we can put one there that is trained, keep our students safe, [and] make our parents feel comfortable that they’re safe.”
Scott introduced the legislation shortly after a mass school shooting took place in late March in Nashville in which six people were killed, including three 9-year-old children.
Scott held a roundtable discussion Monday at the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office with a group of Florida sheriffs, along with Bridget Ziegler, chair of the Sarasota County School Board, and Ryan Petty, whose daughter Alaina was killed at Parkland and who serves on the State Board of Education, to hear their feedback about his proposal.
“We know what we’ve done in Florida is working and it’s working well,” Petty said of the Guardian program. “But the common thread to that entire process is funding.”
“It’s working, senator,” added Manatee County Sheriff Rick Wells. “And if we get this approved nationwide, it’s going to help many communities. It’s been great for all of us to train these guardians. They’ve become one of us. They may not wear a green uniform, but we know where their heart is, so I know we can make this work.”
Convert IRS financing
Scott has argued that the government should redirect the $80 billion allocated to boost IRS staffing into the Guardian Act.
Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis is president of the Florida Sheriffs Association. He said another reason why the Guardian program works in Florida is that those officers act as mentors to troubled youth.
“They come from very dysfunctional families and that gets turned into a mental health crisis, which gets turned into the thoughts of being an active shooter,” he said.
“And that deputy there to be a mentor to maybe point them … in the right direction prevents those things from happening. We know it does. We know that those deputies and police officers are frequently told later on that, ‘You literally saved my life — either I was thinking of doing something to myself or I was thinking about taking some sort of action.’ We can’t measure that, but we know it happens every single day.”
Another provision of the 2018 gun safety legislation in Florida raised the age from 18 to 21 to legally purchase a long gun, shotgun, or rifle. However, the Florida House passed a measure during the just-concluded legislative session that would have repealed that law and lowered the legal age back to 18. It didn’t pass because the Senate never introduced a companion measure.
“I’m sure that the Legislature is going to look at what they can do to improve things,” Scott responded when asked by the Phoenix about that potential change in the 2018 law. “But if you listened today, what we passed has been working and so I’m continuing to support what we passed in ’18.”
Congress considered raising the age at which individuals could legally buy long guns from 18 to 21 last year following the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting in which 21 people were killed. Scott opposed the proposal, saying, “You can change the laws easier at the state level.”
–Mitch Perry, Florida Phoenix
If Rick Scott is FOR something, I would be VERY VERY CAREFUL. He is ALWAYS up to no good. This time, he wants to gut the recent IRS funding to pay for the program he is advocating. In that way, he and his cheating buddies can avoid getting audited for their tax cheating ways. Remember how Rick Scott made his millions? Think…
Deborah Coffey says
Rick Scott cut $1.3 billion from education when he first became governor. He doesn’t know much.
He is a con man that stole from Medicare the news to speak more about that. Another one that is only out for himself.
Carol Fisher says
Maybe if Rick Scott cared about kids being shot in schools, he would have done something to stop 18 year old children to be allowed to buy assault rifles. “You’re not old enough to buy alcohol, but who cares, you can buy a weapon of mass destruction!”
Scott bad idea, there isn’t any Sheriff Office in the State of Florida can live through an active AR15 Assault Weapon. Get your priorities straight and ask DeathSantis to ban assault weapons or this state is going to start looking like Texas.
Rick Scott. Every time this guy opens his mouth stupid comes out. Please Rick, just go back to your Washington office, lock the door and collect your check from us, the US tax payers… do nothing, as you thankfully have been doing (and as was probably expected of you in the first place), you clod.
Just an observation, an opinion and a word of advise.
William Moya says
Until we come to terms with the idea that most of the problems in the US stems from an antiquated Constitution that is de facto impossible to change, and it’s not just the Second Amendment, if we’re serious about becoming an acceptable democracy we should call for a Constitutional Convention, and yeah, I know I’m pissing against the wind.
Glenn Partelow says
So it’s more guns. Did he agree to no permit to carry also?
Tony Lorenzo says
This guy is the stupidest con man in the Senate ( and he has a lot of competition ) keep allowing these type of weapons to be obtained by either young, nuts or people who buy them from private sellers in gun shows without background checks or “cool down period “ . You want to hunt , a rifle is fine. Home protection , a shotgun will do the job. Please , please get this scumbag out of anything that can affect Florida or US citizens.
Roy Longo says
All we are doing is plugging leaks when the dam is about to break. One person can kill a dozen of students before an armed deputy or security guard could stop the threat. Let’s figure out how to stop guns from getting into the schools. That would be a start.
This clown defrauded Medicare of over one billion dollars and sold his Navy shipmates soda tor double the price, Some people will vote for anyone as long as there is an R in front of their name !!!!
I guess we have to wait for someone to mow down some kids while being *protected.* Then, we’ll be told the deputies will need AR15’s to keep up with the shooters.
There are so many people out there who believe in, and back this man, who’s company was fined for the biggest medicare and social security fraud in the history this country. They just don’t care. They’ll vote for Santos too, and DeSantis, and Trump, all against their own interest.