How Have Florida’s Gun Laws Changed Since Parkland?

How Have Florida’s Gun Laws Changed Since Parkland? (The March for Our Lives protest in Parkland, Florida, on March 24, 2018. (Photo: Casey Chapter))

Tallahassee, FLToday marks the one-year anniversary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida. On Feb. 14, 2018, former student Nikolas Cruz killed 17 students and faculty members, and injured 17 others, in one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.

From national marches to voter registration drives to school walkouts — most recently on election day — the Parkland teenage survivors managed to energize millions of young people to call for gun law reform.

A year later, national lawmakers have done little to nothing when it comes to gun control. But Florida's gun laws have seen a number of revisions.

Here are Florida's most notable gun proposals since Parkland.

New Program to Restrict Gun Purchases and Arm School Staff Members

Just weeks after the Parkland shooting, then Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a bill known as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, which imposed a three-day waiting period for gun purchases and raised the minimum age to buy a firearm from 18 to 21. This provision has received pushback from the National Rifle Association, or NRA, which argues that it's unconstitutional.

The bill also allows for the arming of some school employees. Named the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, after one of the faculty members who died at Stoneman protecting the lives of students, it allows school staff who are not exclusively teachers to be trained to carry guns on the job as campus “guardians.” Staff must undergo 132 hours of comprehensive firearm safety training, pass a psychological exam and successfully complete random drug tests and ongoing firearm training.

The act contains a provision (dubbed a “red flag law”) grants law enforcement the ability to seize firearms from anyone deemed to be a danger to themselves or others.

Bump Stock Ban

Bump stocks are devices that can be added to firearms to give them the capabilities of an automatic weapon. These accessories increase the rate of fire for semiautomatic weapons.

A bill was passed in October 2018 that bans the sale, transfer and ownership of bump stocks. It also outlines the possession of such accessories as a third-degree felony. Finally, it calls for the relinquishment of bump stocks for those who own them.

Campus Carry Bill

If enacted, this bill will take effect beginning on July 1, 2019. It prohibits the carrying of any weapons, lethal or not, on school campuses with a few exceptions.

Firearms may be carried on post-secondary school campuses only if there is a school-sponsored function or firearm training, and only with advance permission from the school’s administration.

Other Proposals For the Upcoming 2019 Legislative Session

Arming Teachers would alter Senate Bill 7026 to add teachers and “contract employees” to the Aaron Feis Guardian Program. This bill has attracted opposition from groups such as the National Association of Secondary School Principals and advocacy groups like Moms Demand Action.

Licensed transactions requires that any transfer of firearms from one person to another be facilitated by a licensed dealer.

Protection of child care facilities prohibits licensed concealed weapons carriers to openly carry firearms in any child care facility.

Removal of waiting period removes the waiting period for handgun purchases, reduces the minimum age requirement for gun purchases back to 18 from 21, repeals the ban on bump stocks and repeals law enforcement’s ability to confiscate firearms.

Firearms on campus permits students to have a firearm on campus in their vehicle for certain firearm programs. 

Restrictions on where to carry guns outlines areas where licensed individuals are prohibited from carrying firearms, including college campuses, courthouses and jails.

Regulation of concealed weapons licenses designates the Department of Law Enforcement as the entity that regulates and collect fees from concealed carry licenses.

This story was written in collaboration with WFSU, a public radio station in Tallahassee, Florida.

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