MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Despite the laws passed in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, incoming Florida House Speaker Jose Oliva said he does not believe “we are significantly more safe than we were last year.”
Months after the tragedy, the Legislature passed several measures, sponsored by Oliva that included raising the age to buy a firearm from 18 to 21 and established a process to take guns away from individuals deemed a risk. Oliva said more needs to be done.
“I don’t believe that we’re doing everything we can,” Oliva said during an interview with CBS Miami. “I think we’ve spent a lot of money. We’ve started to create, at a good rate, a mental health safety net. But I’m concerned that in Broward County, where this terrible tragedy happened, they still did not yet have policies in place that would have prevented this. I’m concerned that it has become an issue a political issue about guns as opposed to the safety of a school and how we truly keep our children safe. I think that like a lot of issues it gets highly politicized, but I don’t feel that we are significantly more safe than we were last year.”
WATCH JOSE OLIVA’S INTERVIEW ON THE ISSUE OF GUNS
When the legislature convenes on Tuesday, guns will once again be a major issue. More than four dozen gun-related bills have been filed, including measures that would undo the gun restrictions put into place last year.
Oliva said he would oppose those efforts. “It would be disingenuous of me to have crafted a bill, passed it through the House, and then come back and try to repeal parts of it,” he said. “It would either say something about my thinking then or my thinking now.”
One proposal not expected to make it through the House, is a bill banning assault weapons, like the one used in the Stoneman Douglas shooting, which left 14 students and 3 teachers dead.
Instead, Oliva said he would support bills that would allow teachers to be armed in the classroom.
“When someone says a teacher with a gun, you know the first thing in your mind is your second grade teacher [mine was] Miss Murphy and you thought my goodness Miss Murphy couldn’t possibly carry a gun,” he said. “Well Miss Murphy would have never passed the almost military like training that it would have taken to have been deputized by the local sheriff to carry a gun. Miss Murphy couldn’t have possibly done the continuing education required or the continuing training to maintain that proficiency.”
As part of last year’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Act, support staff, including coaches, are eligible to carry a gun on campus, if their local sheriff’s department opts into the program and the person passes the training. Oliva would expand the so-called Guardian Program to include teachers.
“Nowhere that we introduce more trained people with weapons do we have more gun violence,” he added. “You know the president walks around goes around the country highly protected. Some of our state officials go around protected some members of Congress go around protected.”
Critics worry introducing more guns into schools could lead to more shootings.
“Isn’t that a terrible assumption though,” Oliva said. “I mean think about that for a moment. You’re saying that if a teacher gets a gun all of a sudden it starts to seem like that’s the weapon they should use. They should use that instrument to solve all problems.”
“The bill’s very specific,” Oliva added. “That weapon cannot be used to break up fights. The only issue in which a teacher may use that weapon is in the event of an active shooter. That is the single issue.”