TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) — House and Senate leaders Friday outlined proposals that could lead to some armed teachers in public schools and requiring that gun purchasers be at least 21 years old.
“The proposal that we will put forward will speak directly to every single failing that happened,” said Rep. Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes.
Lawmakers are rushing to address school safety after the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people.
House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, said at a news conference that lawmakers are expected to spend $400 million to $500 million on the issues, though details were still being worked out.
Both the legislative branches and governor’s versions call for raising the age from 18 to 21 to buy a weapon, a bann on bump stocks, and more funding for mental health issues. They also put restrictions on buying or possessing guns for people with mental health issues and those who threaten violence. It would also give more power in the “Baker Act” to take weapons away from those who are involuntarily committed for mental health evaluation.
But there’s one big difference.
“It’s the first of its kind and it the absolutely a game changer in this legislation,” said Corcoran..
That game changer would be to arm teachers or school staff but only after they become a sworn law officer.
“We’re talking about persons with a minimum of 132 hours of training, persons who have gone through extensive criminal back ground checks, mental, psychological evaluation as well as substance abuse evaluations and then they go under the auspices of law enforcement,” said incoming Senate President Bill Galvano.
“I disagree with arming teachers. My focus is on bringing in law enforcement,” said Gov. Scott.
Lawmakers want to allow teachers who go through extensive training and work under the direction of law enforcement agencies to be able to carry concealed weapons at schools.
Lawmakers will not seek to ban semiautomatic rifles, commonly known as “assault” rifles, such as the one used in the school massacre.
Democrats call the entire Republican plan a flop.
“We need to be banning assault weapons, we need universal background checks. We need to make sure that we are addressing the root cause of the public health crisis that is gun violence in this state and in this country,” said State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando.
The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.