The Republican governor of Florida has called for a police officer to be assigned to every public school in the state, and for the minimum age for gun purchases to be raised from 18 to 21 in the wake of the Parkland mass shooting.
‘I’m calling for a mandatory law enforcement officer in every public school,’ Rick Scott said at a news conference on Friday, as he unveiled a package of proposed safety measures in response to last week’s massacre.
Florida ‘will require all individuals purchasing firearms to be 21 or older,’ Scott said.
He added that he intended to make it ‘virtually impossible’ for anyone with ‘mental issues’ to acquire a gun.
Florida governor Rick Scott has called for the minimum age to buy a gun to be raised from 18 to 21 in the state, following the February 14 mass shooting at a Parkland high school; Scott is seen here with Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel
Scott said he would work with legislators during the next two weeks to raise the minimum age for buying any kind of gun in Florida, with some exceptions for younger military or law enforcement officers.
This comes as students who survived the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have stepped up pressure on the governor to take action to protect their schools, demanding stricter gun control laws.
The student activists have traveled to meet with politicians in Tallahassee, the state capital, and Trump at the White House.
Scott also said that he intended to make it ‘virtually impossible’ for anyone with ‘mental issues’ to acquire a gun
The shooter, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, legally purchased the AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle used to killed 17 people and injure 15 others at the Parkland, Florida school.
Scott, a Republican endorsed by the National Rifle Association, said the package of measures had been designed after meetings he held with some of the surviving students.
The measures do not include a ban on semi-automatic assault weapons like the AR-15. Scott said he opposed an outright ban on assault rifles like the one used in the attack, as some students have demanded.
Instead, the state would raise the minimum age for all gun purchases to 21 from 18, and ban the purchase or sale of so-called ‘bump stocks,’ devices that enable semi-automatic weapons to fire rounds much more like machine guns.
Two days ago, surviving students and the Broward County Sheriff participated in a town hall meeting, broadcast by CNN , where they address National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch (right) and lawmakers like Senator Marco Rubio, who have long argued that American gun laws do not need to be stricter
Scott laid out his school safety proposal during a press conference in Tallahassee on Friday
The plan calls for deploying one police officer for every 1,000 students in every public school in Florida, beginning at the start of the 2018-2019 school year.
There was an armed sheriff’s deputy on site at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, but it’s now come to light that the former School Resource Officer deputy Scott Peterson has resigned, as he did not push forward toward the shooter on campus.
Peterson’s training called for him to do so, according to Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.
In remarks to reporters on Friday, President Donald Trump criticized the armed sheriff’s deputy assigned to the school for doing a ‘poor job.’
‘When it came time to get in there and do something, he didn’t have the courage or something happened,’ Trump said.
US President Donald Trump (center) speaks with Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel (left) and Florida Governor Rick Scott (right) while visiting first responders at Broward County Sheriff’s Office in Pompano Beach, Florida, on February 16
Broward Sheriff Scott Israel (left) makes a point to NRA Spokesperson Dana Loesch during a CNN town hall meeting, at the BB&T Center, in Sunrise, Florida on February 21
Gun control advocates welcomed Scott’s steps to tighten laws, but some wanted more.
Broward Teachers Union President Anna Fusco said Scott’s plan to have at least one law enforcement officer for every 1,000 students fell short.
‘There should be armed guards at every door,’ said Jeannette Formica, 50, who has a teenage son who attends a middle school near Stoneman.
Scott, who has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association and has received its highest rating for supporting gun rights, has also called for mandatory ‘active shooter training’ for students and faculty.
An additional $50 million in funding for mental health initiatives is also included in the governor’s proposal.
‘If you look at what the governor’s doing, they’re very, very small, incremental changes,’ Julie Kessel, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida, said in a telephone call with reporters.
‘None of the [proposed actoins] get to the heart of what would really change gun violence, which is to ban assault weapons and close these loopholes immediately in background checks.’
On Wednesday, Israel implemented arming deputies at schools with rifles, including AR-15s
An NRA spokeswoman did not reply to an email seeking comment.
Overall, the Florida governor’s plan closely mirrored proposed measures unveiled on Friday by leaders of the Republican-controlled state legislature.
Trump also called for a ban on bump stocks, in statements broadcast on Tuesday.
A bump stock replaces the standard stock on a rifle and works with the natural recoil when a round is fire. This makes it so that a shooter need only hold their finger in place to trigger another round to be fired, rather than releasing and pressing the trigger, a second time. The modification turns a semi-automatic weapon into something very close to an automatic weapon.
Scott’s announcement of his action plan comes as staff members were returning for the first time to the high school in Parkland, which is the scene of one of the deadliest school attacks in US history.
‘Everything was quiet, and looked like it was frozen in time,’ said Greg Pittman, a social studies teacher who joined about 30 colleagues, working up the nerve together over breakfast to head back to the school. Some could not bring themselves to return, he said, still too shaken by the horrors they witnessed.
Outside the school, some teachers gazed at the piles of flowers and makeshift memorials to the victims. One woman who brought balloons to add to the memorials fell to her knees in tears.
Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old Florida shooter, was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder on February 15, after he legally obtained an AR-15 rifle and admitted to using it to shoot and kill 17 people and injure 15 others at a high school in Parkland on February 14; The massacre has ignited a nationwide debate about gun control, led by surviving student victims
Maintenance staff have used power washers to clean up the scene of the attack, but the building where the shooting occurred will remain closed.
Students are due to return to class on Wednesday. Two days ago, the students and the Broward County Sheriff participated in a town hall meeting, broadcast by CNN, where they address National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch and lawmakers like Senator Marco Rubio, who have long argued that American gun laws do not need to be stricter.
The shooter, who admitted to causing the deaths and injuries and is a former student at the school, has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
The surviving students from the attack on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have formed an organization called March For Our Lives, and are preparing to stage a nationwide march on Washington, DC, and across the US, to be held on March 24.
Bump stocks were used by Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock, who killed 58 people at an outdoor concert on October 1.
PICTURED: Fourteen students, geography teacher, coach and athletic director shot dead in Florida high school massacre
Jaime Guttenberg, 14, (left) was described by relatives as a ‘kind-hearted, sweet’ girl. She attended the school with her younger brother who survived and rushed home afterwards. Senior Nicholas Dworet (right) was a gifted swimmer who had his sights set on 2020 Tokyo Olympics success. His devastated college student girlfriend is among those grieving his death. Friends said he was not just a talented athlete, but a ‘good guy’ who will be missed
Martin Duque, 14, (left) was missing for hours on Wednesday and his frantic family desperately appealed for him to get in touch on social media. On Thursday, his older brother Miguel confirmed his death. Martin was a freshman. Meadow Pollack, 18, (right) was preparing for college. Her father was at the school on Wednesday and showed her photograph around in the hope that she would be found alive
Cara Loughran (left) was missing on Wednesday afternoon. Her mother Denise and her father rushed to the designated hotel where parents were told to go to be reunited with their children in the hope that she would be found alive. Her grieving neighbor confirmed her death on Thursday. Alyssa Alhadeff, 15, (right) was eulogized by her mother who said she was a talented soccer player and creative mind. ‘All she had to offer the world was love… I just sent her to school and she was shot and killed,’ she said
Luke Hoyer, 15, (left) was described as a ‘precious’ child by his grandparents who confirmed his death. They found out about the shooting on television. They said he was a ‘good kid’ who ‘never got in trouble’. Joaquin Oliver, 17, (right) was also killed. Joaquin was a Venezuelan immigrant who came to the US with his family for a ‘better future’, they said on Thursday
Gina Montalto, 15, (left) was described as a ‘light and joy’. She and Jaime, another victim, volunteered at a local project called The Friendship Initiative where they acted as buddies for children with special needs. Gina’s mother Jennifer shared pleas to find her on social media on Wednesday. Alaina Petty, 14, (right) was also killed. Her Mormon church confirmed her death, saying she was a ‘valiant’ member
Carmen Schentrup, 16, (left) was also killed in the shooting. Carmen was a gifted student who last year was named as a semifinalist in the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program. It includes students who score above average in their SATs or National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. ROTC student Peter Wang, 15, (right) also died. His parents speak little English and relied on their neighbor to post social media appeals looking for him. They went to the Marriott hotel with other parents to wait for news of him on Wednesday night and have since confirmed that he was among those killed
Alex Schachter, 14, (left) was also killed. His mother died when he was a child and he attended the school in Florida with his brother, who survived. The teenager’s father Max said he was a ‘sweetheart of a child’ who ‘just wanted to do well and please his parents’. Helena Ramsey, 17, (right) was described by relatives as a ‘reserved’ and studious girl who was due to go to college next year
Geography Scott Beigel, 35, (left) was shot dead as he tried to lock the door of his classroom again after letting a group of fleeing students in to hide. They were running away from the gunman. Aaron Feis, 37, (right) died acting as a human shield. The track coach had thrown himself on top of the kids to stop the bullets from hitting him. He was a former student and was also a security guard at the school where he had worked for eight years
Athletic director Chris Hixon, 49, was also killed shielding students