Published: Mon, March 05, 2018
Global Media | By Derrick Guzman

Florida senators vote not to stop sales of AR-15s

Florida senators vote not to stop sales of AR-15s

Marion Hammer, a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association and Unified Sportsmen of Florida, told the House Appropriations Committee that she supports hardening schools and keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, but couldn't support the bill because of the new restrictions on gun ownership.

A shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School sent students rushing into the streets as SWAT team members swarmed in and locked down the building.

Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, who is shepherding the measure through the chambers said the delay give the Senate time to "line up" its bill with a plan that could be passed by the House, where the NRA's influence is strongest.

"In Florida, we have the chance to stop it", he said.

Instead, he supports more school resource officers. He has said he wants at least one sheriff's deputy or police officer for every 1,000 students in a school. That is to say, after some training and instruction, certain teachers would be armed as school marshals.

As the bill moves through the Legislature, the court case of Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old accused of killing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, is underway.

Rep. Jackie Toledo, a Tampa Republican who is the primary sponsor of the House bill, said that "despite all the other important issues that we are dealing with, we came together and worked together in a bipartisan fashion to save lives".

School marshals would get $500 as a one-time stipend. And it requires district school boards to formulate and prescribe policies and procedures for active shooter situations, according to the bill's description.

In the rare Saturday session, the Senate was considering a 100-page bill that, among other things, would raise the minimum age to buy a rifle from 18 to 21 and create a waiting period to buy the weapons.

The bills also already have additional funding - $75 million in the Senate proposal and almost $100 million in the House measure - that schools can use for resource officers.

Participants sought a permanent ban on assault-style rifles as one of their aims, but that prospect was dashed.

But after listening Wednesday to Linda Beigel Schulman - whose son, Scott Beigel, died protecting students from a hail of bullets - Berman is more ambivalent. Neither should Gov. Rick Scott, who opposes arming teachers.

"It was just sad to go back there and not have my friends who were in the class with me anymore". "I think we're all internally conflicted".

Co-sponsor Rep. Emily Slosberg, a Boca Raton Democrat whose twin sister, Dori, died in a auto accident 22 years ago, said the change is needed.

"I haven't made up my mind yet until I see the final product", she said.

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