TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – In the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, the state’s House Appropriations Committee has approved a a bill that would allow for armed teachers and raise the age limit to buy rifles.
The bill raises the minimum age to buy a rifle from 18 to 21, requires a three-day waiting period for all gun purchases and creates a program that could allow some teachers to carry concealed weapons in the classroom.
Broward School Board member Laurie Rich-Levinson is adamantly opposed to arming teachers in schools and let the committee know it.
“We don’t have enough money to pay our teachers in Florida to teach, and so to have an amendment like this, where we’re paying them to carry a weapon in our schools, is something I am certainly opposed to,” she said.
“It frightens me to even have some kind of notion of guns in a classroom, or more guns in a school,” said Broward resident Michael Rajner.
The 23-6 vote Tuesday followed more than four hours of emotional discussion.
“My daughter was shot on the third floor, brutally, nine times,” said Andrew Pollock, whose daughter, Meadow, was among the murdered. “In Florida, we have the chance to stop it. And we have an obligation, because every other state in this country is watching Florida right now, what we’re going to do.”
Linda Beigle-Schulman’s son, Scott Beigle, a teacher and track coach, was killed. She pleaded for an assault weapon ban. “Its only purpose is to hunt humans. An AR-15 was used to hunt down and kill my son,” she said.
Democratic Rep. Jared Moskowitz, a former Parkland vice mayor, said he didn’t like the bill, but still voted for it.
“It doesn’t go far enough and now it goes too far in other areas. But the NRA opposes it and I will not vote with the NRA,” he said.
His views reflected many of those who testified before the committee, saying they wanted a ban on assault rifles and that they opposed the idea of arming teachers.
Max Schacter, whose son, Alex, was killed said the measure fell short of what he would like, but was a start.
“While the proposed bill does not meet all of my goals, the components of the bill would have saved my little boy, Alex,” Schacter said.
A Stoneman Douglas student wept as she gave her endorsement to the measure.
“I believe this bill is a great start, realizing that we all have to agree to disagree with some things. But it’s a start to never let this happen again,” the student said through her tears.
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.
After the meeting, she said the restrictions wouldn’t have stopped the Parkland shootings.
“Part of what we need to do is make people understand that guns are not the problem. None of the gun control that they have in this bill will stop mass shooters with mental illness. There are laws in place that if they had been followed, that shooter could have been stopped so many times it makes your head spin. So passing more laws dealing with guns as a solution to a problem that exists within the enforcement of laws is just kind of silly.”
The House and Senate will eventually agree to a gun reform bill which will include a number of controls but not a ban on assault rifles. The ban was taken off the table by Republican lawmakers and Governor Rick Scott.