You are here: Home » PTI Stories » National » News
Business Standard

Florida passes bill to restrict guns, arm some teachers

AFP  |  Miami 

The US state of Florida, scene of America's latest school shooting, has passed bill that raises the minimum age to buy firearms to 21 while funding a program that allows some teachers and school employees to be armed.

The "Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act," which takes its name from last month's mass shooting in which 17 people including 14 students were killed, passed the legislature's lower house a day after clearing the

It will now be sent to to sign.

The Republican has not indicated whether he would veto the law, but he has previously expressed opposition to US Donald Trump's call to arm teachers.

America's long moribund gun control debate was revived by survivors of the Parkland shooting, who a day after their school was attacked launched the "Never Again" movement demanding legislative action.

The bill raises the minimum age to purchase all firearms from 18 to 21 -- a move opposed by the powerful group -- that make a semi-automatic weapon fully automatic, and increases mental health funding.

It also includes a voluntary "guardian program" named after who was slain in the Parkland attack, which is intended to "aid in the prevention or abatement of active assailant incidents on school premises" by allowing some school employees to be armed.

The program is mainly aimed at staff such as coaches and school personnel, with teachers eligible if they have military or enforcement experience.

Bringing more guns into school has been a controversial idea, but lawmakers defended the bill.

"I understand the angst about the guardian program but I can't help but think about the coaches who literally ran in as shields to protect their students ... while guys with guns were standing outside," said Republican member


"If there are school personnel that want to go to the training to help shield the students and protect them, they should have the opportunity," he continued.

Meanwhile, Democrat legislators said the guardian program was a "poison pill" in a otherwise taking necessary steps towards gun control.

"I'm taking and swallowing that poison pill. As much as I don't want to, I can't look in the mirror and leave here and think 'I did nothing to help'," said

African-American representatives also expressed fears that arming black school employees could leave them vulnerable to being mistaken for attackers by police arriving on the scene of a mass shooting.

has seen three mass shootings in under two years -- 49 were killed at an Orlando nightclub in 2016, five at in 2017, and now 17 in Parkland.

The bill does not ban the sale of the assault rifle -- the weapon used by -- one of activists' key demands.

Meanwhile, parents of American children killed in gun violence implored to seize the moment and enact far-reaching gun reform, as the momentum for taking action stalls in politically divided

With no lawmakers from the controlling present, a group of Democrats held a makeshift hearing in the US Capitol to hear testimony from grieving relatives, a survivor of the Parkland shooting, teachers and police officers demanding change to the nation's laws.

"How many more children are going to need to be slaughtered?" 17-year-old asked the senators.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, March 08 2018. 12:15 IST
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU