© 2024 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Florida Gov. Rick Scott Unveils Policy Changes After Parkland Shooting


Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas have been calling for gun reform since immediately after the shooting at their school last Wednesday. This week they marched to the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee demanding new gun restrictions. And today in that same capitol building, Governor Rick Scott backed a few of their demands. He unveiled a proposal that would be the broadest move in recent memory to restrict gun ownership in the state. Still, it doesn't come close to the changes the students and many others called for. NPR's Brakkton Booker has more from Tallahassee.

BRAKKTON BOOKER, BYLINE: Governor Rick Scott jumped right in. He started his press conference this morning without so much as a greeting. Instead, he read the names of those killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., just over a week ago


RICK SCOTT: Alyssa Alhadeff, Scott Beigel, Martin Duque Anguiano...

BOOKER: Scott said the school shooting changed Florida's future.


SCOTT: Unfortunately none of the plans I'm announcing today will bring any of them back. But it's important to remember them - the 17 lives that were cut short and all the hopes and dreams that were ruined.

BOOKER: Today Scott announced a $500 million spending plan to bolster school safety and improve mental health programs in the state. In addition, he proposed increasing the minimum age to own a firearm from 18 to 21. Bump stocks will be banned. And he wants lawmakers to approve a violent threat restraining order. The restraining order would need to be approved by a court and would be a way to keep firearms out of the hands of those who suffer from mental illness.


SCOTT: I want to make it virtually impossible for anyone who has mental issues to use a gun. I want to make it virtually impossible for anyone who is a danger to themselves or others to use a gun.

BOOKER: Patricia Brigham is the co-chair of the Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence.

PATRICIA BRIGHAM: We're excited to see that we're finally entering into a conversation about addressing gun violence in Florida.

BOOKER: But, she adds...

BRIGHAM: While the governor's proposal contains some common sense measures, it really ignores the clear asks that the students of Parkland and our coalition have made.


SCOTT: I know there are some who are advocating a mass takeaway of Second Amendment rights for all Americans. That is not the answer.

BOOKER: Scott, and the Republican-controlled legislature, have for several years steadily expanded gun rights for residents. Eric Friday is the general counsel for the gun rights group Florida Carry.

ERIC FRIDAY: I am concerned with things like creating a ban on people under 21 being able to purchase firearms. I am concerned that the governor still refuses to call for allowing teachers who wish to carry and who have been trained to be able to carry to protect their students.

BOOKER: Scott announced a series of what he described as school-hardening measures designed to increase school safety. The $500 million will be spent in part on items such as bulletproof glass, steel doors and metal detectors in every school. There would be, under this plan, one armed guard for every thousand students.


SCOTT: We know for certain that we cannot simply rely on the current federal background check system. The killer should not have been able to purchase or even possess a weapon. And we know that the federal government can't even be counted on to investigate or act on serious and credible threats, as we saw with the FBI's complete failure.

BOOKER: Separately, members of the Florida state House and Senate today announced their own similar plans to address gun safety and mental health issues. Lawmakers in the GOP-controlled legislature expressed optimism that they will approve a bill before the end of the session in early March. Brakkton Booker, NPR News, Tallahassee. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Brakkton Booker is a National Desk reporter based in Washington, DC.