TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/AP) — The Florida Senate has passed a school safety bill that would place new restrictions on rifle sales, allow some teachers to carry guns in schools and create new school mental health programs.
The Senate voted 20-18 Monday for the bill that’s a response to the Feb. 14 school shootings in Parkland that left 17 people dead.
Few, if any, senators were completely happy with the legislation. Many Republicans don’t like the idea of raising the minimum age to buy rifles from 18 to 21 or creating a waiting period to purchase the weapons.
Many Democrats think the bill didn’t go far enough because it doesn’t include a ban on assault-style rifles or large-capacity magazines.
The Senate amended the bill to put limits on which teachers could participate in a proposed program to carry guns in schools.
Florida’s House has not yet taken up its version of the bill.
Late Monday afternoon an amendment was added to the bill named for Coach Aaron Feis who was killed reportedly trying to save students in the massacre.
The amendment limited the armed teachers debate in classrooms to school personnel who are not sole or full-time teachers. It passed on a voice vote.
The gun control debate in Tallahassee highlights the major divide between Republicans and Democrats on the issue of guns and the response to mass shootings.
“The only thing that will help the situation is if we ban assault weapons,” said Sen. Linda Stewart (D-FL).
“It’s not the weapon. It’s the evil from within,” said Sen. Kelli Stargel (R-FL).
There may be some middle ground.
As it stands, the legislation would increase the age to buy a rifle from 18 to 21, ban “bump stocks” and require a 3-day waiting period for most gun purchases. The legislation would also start a new “Marshal Program,” permitting teachers and staff to be armed after at least 132 hours of training.
“I haven’t stopped since they murdered my kid,” said Andrew Pollack whose daughter Meadow was killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, supports the Senate bill. He wants to focus on school safety instead of gun control.
“I’m very comfortable with it. It will make it impossible to have another school shooting in Florida,” said Pollack.
Without an assault style weapons ban, many think mass shootings will continue. Their arguments were not enough to convince Republicans in the legislature.
Student David Hogg posted a photo on Twitter and said he can’t wait for elections.
Fellow student Jackie Corin tweeted, “this breaks my heart, but we will not let this ruin our movement.”
One of those layers, many agree, is on keeping guns out of the hands of mentally unstable people.
Student Kyle Kushuv does not believe that banning guns is the answer.
“The issue comes when it goes to a person who is not mentally stable and who shouldn’t have a gun in the first place,” Kushuv said. “The weapon isn’t the issue. It’s the holder.”
Kushuv says he believes in the Never Again movement…but wants to make sure that the 2nd amendment is protected.
“My biggest concern is that the rights of innocent Americans are infringed upon,” Kushuv said.
Watching all this play out in Tallahassee is the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) Chief lobbyist in Florida, 78-year-old Marion Hammer. She’s responsible for 40 separate gun bills enacted in the 20 years since Republicans took over the legislature and executive branch. She opposes raising the age to buy a gun from 18 to 21.
Pro-gun advocates protested Sunday outside Florida’s Capitol.
Speaking at the pro-gun rally, was defiant college student 20-year old Tiffany Berkley who fought back against a potential Florida law that would force her to wait until she is 21 to buy a gun.
“Raising the age would effectively terminate any 2nd amendment rights I have in this state,” said Berkley.
Berkley says she supports giving teachers the option to be armed.
“You have a right to be angry. I’m angry with you. I understand that this is a very heated topic but we can’t have our rights infringed,” said Berkley when asked if she had a message for the victims of the Parkland school shooting who are pushing for gun control.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)