Gov. Scott signs Stoneman Douglas bill into law

Alicia Farmer
March 12, 2018

The bill raises the minimum age to purchase all firearms from 18 to 21 - a move opposed by the powerful National Rifle Association lobby group - bans modification devices that makes a semi-automatic weapon fully automatic, and increases mental health funding.

The National Rifle Association has filed a federal lawsuit over gun control legislation Florida Gov. Rick Scott has signed, saying it violates the Second Amendment by raising the age to buy guns from 18 to 21.

Scott received the bill Thursday following days of impassioned, often contentious debate in the majority-Republican House and Senate. "I'm going to be an NRA member when I'm not governor", Scott said.

A controversial part of the new law is known as the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, which arms some teachers if both the local school district and local sheriff's department agree.

Sunday at the Florida Capitol, Governor Rick Scott signed a bill creating the nation's first ever private voucher program for bullied students.

"This bill punishes law-abiding gun owners for the criminal acts of a deranged individual", the NRA said, referring to the mass shooting on February 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which killed 17 people. "He's not bringing the families up [to Tallahassee] just for a discussion". "You made a difference. Instead of looking to the root cause of this premeditated violence [in schools], the gun control provisions in this law wrongly blame millions of Floridians who safely and responsibly exercise their right to self-defense".

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From Arizona to Washington, young people walked out of schools in support of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High survivors who mobilized behind an emotional movement calling for a ban on weapons such as the one used to kill their friends and teachers. Many Douglas High student survivors demanded a ban on assault-style weapons, along with a hike in the age to purchase rifles. Gun control advocates have argued that the measure did not go far enough.

The administration will start working with states to provide "rigorous firearms training" to teachers and other school personnel who volunteer to be armed, said Andrew Bremberg, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.

Teachers who "exclusively" perform classroom instruction would be excluded from the program, meaning teachers who have other duties, such as drama coaches, would be eligible to participate.

The union said teachers should not have to choose between confronting a gunman or getting their students to safety.

The voucher program is included in a sweeping education bill that also includes a requirement that all Florida schools must display the words "In God We Trust".

The bill has been an important political consideration for Scott, who is facing term limits as governor and is widely expected to challenge Florida's Democratic US senator, Bill Nelson, in November's midterm election.

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