Florida Senate Passes Bill To Restrict Gun Sales -- And Arm Teachers

by Thea Glassman
Image via Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Florida Senate just passed some very important gun laws — and a very disturbing one

If you’ve been waiting and waiting for any kind of meaningful gun control legislation to happen — that day has finally come. Florida Senate just passed a bill that upped the age limit for buying guns, increased the waiting period for purchases, and banned bump stock sales. Now, it’s up to the House to approve those updates, so let’s all keep our fingers firmly crossed.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, which passed by 20-18 votes, mandates that customers must be 21 to purchase a gun (the original age was 18) and institutes a three-day waiting period on most gun sales. It would also ban bump stocks, which turns a semi-automatic riffle into an automatic — and was used by the Las Vegas shooter during a massacre that took 58 lives.

The bill also gives law enforcement the right to seize weapons from people who are mentally unfit (HOW was that not a law already?!) and provides more funding for mental health services. Okay, so that’s all well and good. Really, really good, actually. But then comes the tricky part.

There is also a measure that would allow specially trained teachers and other staff members to carry guns during the school day. The program — dubbed the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, in memory of a staffer who lost his life during the Florida school shooting — would be voluntary and require officials to complete 144 hours of training beforehand.

This addition has Florida lawmakers pretty torn.

Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson insisted that the program would help ensure student’s safety. “We are many colors in this chamber. I would want a teacher to have the opportunity to stop an evil person from slaughtering children,” he said, per Orlando Weekly. “But the only thing that’s going to stop a slaughter, in that moment, is if it’s fortunate enough to have a person in that room with a firearm. And the marshal program provides an opportunity, not a guarantee, for that to be done.”

Others argued that we don’t need more guns at this point — which *ahem* is a fair point. Maybe we should work on regulating the weapons that are out there right now, for starters? Just a crazy thought.

“We will have no clue in 67 counties in this state of what this marshal program looks like,” Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville said. “We don’t need additional guns in schools. You don’t add fuel to a fire that’s already burning. It’s burning just fine on its own.”

Over on Twitter, some survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School school applauded the first step in common sense gun laws — with a few caveats.

Here’s to many, many more states stepping it up and taking a stand for gun control. We’re (not so patiently) waiting.