A week after the horrific Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre that killed 17 people, Florida Governor Rick Scott has announced he will work with state lawmakers to move the age at which people can buy a gun from 18 to 21 and also ban the selling of bump stocks.
Raising the gun purchase age to 21 is consistent with President Donald Trump’s views. The National Rifle Association, on the other hand, has already rejected the idea on Wednesday. Trump, however, insisted on Thursday that the NRA would support his plan to raise the age to buy a semi-automatic weapon to 21.
Scott’s plan also hinges on gun laws, school safety and mental health. Aside from raising the age to buy a gun at 21 and a ban on bump stocks, other proposals under the plan include: an “enhanced” criminal penalties for people who make threats to schools , including those made on social media; expanding mental health resources for children and young adults; allowing courts to prohibit a mentally-ill person from buying or possessing a gun. People found by a court to be at risk to themselves will be stripped of firearms. Also included are a law enforcement officer in every school and at least one officer for every 1,000 students; and mandatory active-shooter training in public schools.
Scott committed to work with state lawmakers “aggressively” over the next two weeks to institute his plan. Florida state House and Senate leaders introduced new school safety measures mirroring the governor’s plan.
The Republican governor said: “I want to make it virtually impossible for anyone who has mental issues to use a gun. I want to make it virtually
impossible for anyone who is a danger to themselves or others to use a gun.”
Scott said that the gunman, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz should have never been able to buy or possess a gun in the first place. He also listed the various warning signs before he went on to stage the massacre including the 39 visits to the police, his reputation as a danger to students and an FBI report that he was a possible school shooter.
Scott said: “And yet he was never put on the list to be denied the ability to buy a gun, and his guns were never removed from him.”
Scott realizes the “difficult task” ahead, “balancing our individual rights with our obvious need for public safety.”
The shooting shocked the entire country, and even the world. And to many, including Scott, the long-term impact of the tragedy is real: “Florida will never be the same.”
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