Florida Governor Rick Scott Signs Package Of New Gun Restrictions
PHOTO: Florida Gov. Rick Scott attends a meeting in Tallahassee last month. After the mass shooting at a Parkland high school, Scott was pushed by students, parents and others to agree to new limits on gun purchases. CREDIT: COLIN HACKLEY/REUTERS
BY ED MCNULTY, TANYA BALLARD-BROWN, BARBARA CAMPBELL, NPR
Florida Gov. Rick Scott has signed legislation tightening gun restrictions in the state. Among other things, the legislation raises the legal age for gun purchases to 21, institutes a waiting period of three days, and allows for the arming of school personnel who are not full-time teachers.
In a statement, Scott’s office highlights mental health provisions in the bill:
“Creates “Risk Protection Orders,” which allows a court to prohibit a violent or mentally ill individual from purchasing or possessing a firearm or any other weapon. If a law enforcement officer believes that a person poses a danger to themselves or others by possessing a firearm, they can petition a court to have the individual immediately surrender the firearm and prohibit them from possessing or purchasing firearms;
“Allows law enforcement to seize firearms when a person has been detained under the ‘Baker Act.’ Also prohibits a person who has been ‘adjudicated mentally defective’ or who has been ‘committed to a mental institution’ from owning or possessing a firearm.”
Florida’s Baker Act allows families to get mental health evaluations of loved ones who resist such intervention.
The governor’s statement notes that the three-day waiting period includes exceptions for “the purchase of rifles and shotguns by law enforcement officers, correctional officers, active duty military members and all members of the Florida National Guard and United States Reserve Forces.”
At the signing, Scott was flanked by family members of the victims of the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Families of the shooting victims wrote a letter to the House legislators on Tuesday, urging them to pass the gun package.
Florida lawmakers approved the legislation earlier this week with the state House voting 67-50 to approve the bill and the state Senate passing it by a 20-18 vote.
On Wednesday, a grand jury in Fort Lauderdale formally charged 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, the suspect in the deadly school shooting in Parkland, with 17 counts of first-degree murder. The indictment also included 17 counts of attempted murder. Prosecutors could seek the death penalty if Cruz is convicted of first-degree murder.