In wake of school shooting, Florida governor wants to raise age to buy guns

Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced he will work with state lawmakers to move the age at which people can buy a gun to 21 and ban the purchase or selling of bump stocks.

The plan comes about a week after a gunman with a history of run-ins with law enforcement and mental health issues killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in south Florida.

The plan hinges on gun laws, school safety and mental health. Here are the main takeaways of the governor's plan:

  • A person must be 21 to buy a gun
  • A ban on bump stocks, which allow a gun to mimic a fully automatic weapon
  • "Enhanced" criminal penalties for people who make threats to schools, including those made on social media
  • Expanding mental health resources for children and young adults
  • Allowing courts to prohibit a mentally ill person from buying or possessing a gun. People found by a court to be at risk to themselves will be stripped of firearms
  • A law enforcement officer in every school and at least one officer for every 1,000 students
  • Mandatory active-shooter training in public schools

The governor said he will be working with state lawmakers "aggressively" over the next two weeks to institute his plan. Also on Friday,  Florida state House and Senate leaders introduced new school safety measures mirroring the governor's plan.

"I want to make it virtually impossible for anyone who has mental issues to use a gun," he said."I want to make it virtually impossible for anyone who is a danger to themselves or others to use a gun."

Scott made the announcement during a Friday press conference, which began with him listing the names of the 17 killed at Stoneman Douglas High.

"Florida will never be the same," he said.

Scott set up his plan by listing the various warning signs related to gunman Nikolas Cruz, 19, before he opened fire on Stoneman Douglas High. That included the 39 visits from police, his reputation as a danger to students and an FBI report he was a possible school shooter. Scott said Cruz should have never been able to buy or possess a weapon.

"'And yet, he was never put on the list to be denied the ability to buy a gun, and his guns were never removed from him," he said.

Scott's plan to raise the age

Scott, a National Rifle Association member, said a "mass takeaway of Second Amendment rights" is "not the answer."

"We all have a difficult task in front of us," he said, "balancing our individual rights with our obvious need for public safety."

The shooting placed Florida at the center of a reignited national gun-rights debate. Earlier this week, Stoneman Douglas students met with President Trump at the White House, others appeared at a CNN town hall and thousands of students marched in Tallahassee, Florida's capital.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson panned the idea as Scott listening "only to the NRA."

"The governor's plan doesn't do one thing to ensure comprehensive criminal background checks or ban assault rifles, like the AR-15," Nelson said in a statement. "His leadership is weak and by recommending raising the age to 21 he is doing the bare minimum. We need to get these assault rifles off our streets and expand criminal background checks for anyone acquiring a gun."


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