Florida Gov. Rick Scott defied his longtime allies at the National Rifle Association on Friday to sign into law a new set of gun regulations, more than three weeks after a school shooting claimed 17 lives in his state.
“I am going to do what I think are common-sense solutions,” the Republican governor said after the signing. “I think this is the beginning. There is now going to be a real conversation about how we make our schools safe.”
The law, passed by Republican legislative leaders and a number of Democrats, marks a major shift for a state known as a laboratory for gun rights legislation, including legal protections for people who use guns in self-defense and an expansive concealed-carry law.
It comes as federal efforts to address the Feb. 14 slayings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have sputtered, despite calls from President Donald Trump for bipartisan action. The Senate has no bill scheduled for debate, and the only measure moving in the House of Representatives is a bill to increase shooting response training for students and teachers.
Scott, who is moving toward a Senate bid against Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson, was critical of the inaction in Washington. “If you look at the federal government, nothing seems to have happened there,” he said. “You go elect people, you expect them to represent you, get things done.”
The new Florida law imposes a three-day waiting period for most purchases of long guns, raises the minimum age for buying those weapons to 21 and bans the possession of bump stocks, devices that can make semiautomatic weapons fire like fully automatic firearms. It does not address the demand of many Stoneman Douglas students for a ban on assault weapons.
The bill does make it easier for law enforcement and judges to remove guns from people considered a danger to themselves or others, and it establishes a program to arm some school personnel, along with hundreds of millions of dollars in new spending on school security and mental health treatment.
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Michael Scherer