Florida Legislature debates school safety bill

Nearly two weeks after a shooting at a high school killed 17 people, the Florida Legislature took a step closer Tuesday to passing a bill that would allow for armed teachers and raise the age limit to buy rifles, among other changes.

Posted: Feb 27, 2018 3:08 PM

PARKLAND, Fla. (AP) — Nearly two weeks after a shooting at a high school killed 17 people, the Florida Legislature took a step closer Tuesday to passing a bill that would allow for armed teachers and raise the age limit to buy rifles, among other changes.

A House committee approved the bill that would raise the minimum age to buy rifles from 18 to 21 and creates a three-day waiting period for all gun purchase. The bill would also create a program that allows teachers who receive law enforcement training and are deputized by the local sheriff’s office to carry concealed weapons in the classroom if also approved by the school district.

The 23-6 vote Tuesday followed more than four hours of emotional discussion, including from parents of some of the 17 killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day.

Democratic Rep. Jared Moskowitz, a former Parkland vice mayor, said he didn’t like the bill, but still voted for it. He explained, “It doesn’t go far enough, and now it goes too far in other areas. But the NRA opposes it and I will not vote with the NRA.”

Max Schachter, father of 14-year-old victim Alex Schachter, said the bill the House committee approved Tuesday, doesn’t go far enough, but it still could have saved his son.

President Donald Trump says he doesn’t want all teachers to carry guns - just those who have a “natural talent.” (Feb. 26)

“While the proposed bill does not meet all of my goals, the components of the bill would have saved my little boy Alex,” he said. “And if we would have had these measures in place, I would not have had to bury my son next to his mother a week and a half ago.”

Unlike Monday, when hundreds of sometimes rowdy protesters jammed a Senate meeting to consider a similar bill, Tuesday’s proceedings were more orderly. But still, several speakers spoke in favor of the assault weapons ban, including Parkland resident Amber Hersh.

“Our children lost a friend. Our friend lost a daughter. This is your opportunity. The world is watching,” she told the committee.

An amendment to ban assault weapons was rejected on an 18-11 vote.

A Senate committee was going to take up a similar bill later in the day.

As the bill moves through the Legislature, the court case of Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old accused of killing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, is underway.

A judge has refused to step aside from the case as requested by his lawyers. Court records show Broward County Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer denied the request Monday.

Cruz’s lawyers claimed Scherer has made rulings and comments that indicate favoritism for prosecutors. They said in court papers that Cruz can’t get a fair trial, but Scherer disagreed.

Cruz is charged with 17 counts of murder in the Valentine’s Day shooting.

A Tuesday morning hearing in the criminal case against Cruz was canceled after lawyers reached an agreement for prosecutors to get hair samples, fingerprints, DNA and photographs of him.

Students are scheduled to return to school Wednesday, for the first time since the Feb. 14 shooting.

In Mississippi, lawmakers proposed letting teachers and other school employees with special training carry guns onto campus. The Senate Judiciary A Committee on Tuesday amended House Bill 1083, allowing public and private school administrators to establish school safety programs that would allow teachers to carry guns. School employees would have to receive 12 hours of training every two years from the Mississippi Department of Public Safety.

Meanwhile, Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie told the Sun Sentinel that the district’s hands were tied by federal law after Cruz turned 18 and refused to let the school system continue providing him with crucial mental health and other services.

“You can’t make someone do something when the law says they have the right to make that determination,” Runcie told the newspaper.

Cruz was transferred to a school with programs for emotionally and disabled students when he was in eighth grade but wanted to be mainstreamed back into his home school, Runcie said.

“He often perseverates on the idea that his current school is for students that are ‘not smart’ and that he can now handle being in ‘regular’ school,” according to a Broward school system report from June 2015, the end of his ninth-grade year.

Starting in January 2016, Cruz was allowed to spend half his day at the alternative school and half at Stoneman Douglas to ease him into the less-structured environment.

In August 2016, he started back to Stoneman Douglas, but “the situation had deteriorated” by November, Runcie said. That’s when Cruz, who had turned 18 in September 2016, refused the mental health services offered by the school. Runcie said Cruz had the support of his mother.

He remained at the school until February 2017, when school officials finally decided to remove him after unspecified behavior issues. He was told his only option was an alternative school.

Runcie said he would like to see the aged raised to 21 for students to be allowed to refuse such services.

“The Legislature has just proposed raising the legal age by which you could purchase firearms to 21. Maybe 21 should also be the age they can refuse services,” he told the newspaper.

___

Associated Press writers Freida Frisaro and Adriana Gomez Licon in Miami; Gary Fineout in Tallahassee, Florida; Tamara Lush in St. Petersburg, Florida; and Jeffrey Collins in Columbia, South Carolina; contributed to this report.

___

Follow the AP’s complete coverage of the Florida school shooting here: https://apnews.com/tag/Floridaschoolshooting .

Terre Haute
Overcast
55° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 55°
Robinson
Overcast
53° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 53°
Indianapolis
Overcast
50° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 50°
Rockville
Overcast
49° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 46°
Casey
Clear
53° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 53°
Brazil
Overcast
55° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 55°
Marshall
Overcast
55° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 55°
Breezy, warmer Wednesday
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 292082

Reported Deaths: 8858
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook1443155217
DuPage17589561
Lake16953487
Will14045378
Kane13159326
St. Clair6665190
Winnebago6037149
Madison5760137
Champaign473320
McHenry4609118
Peoria351050
McLean329523
Rock Island302676
Kankakee275277
Unassigned2532244
Sangamon243245
Kendall202025
Tazewell178025
LaSalle172557
DeKalb159038
Macon156044
Coles147231
Williamson140645
Jackson126224
Clinton119020
Adams114910
Boone112823
Randolph94111
Effingham8722
Vermilion7914
Whiteside75320
Ogle7286
Monroe68016
Knox6723
Grundy6705
Henry6665
Morgan66223
Bureau65211
Jefferson62038
Marion5661
Christian55411
Macoupin5507
Franklin5413
Stephenson5296
Union51524
McDonough48215
Logan4681
Crawford4584
Woodford4266
Fayette4183
Livingston4036
Cass39811
Jersey39415
Shelby3944
Lee3831
Montgomery37613
Iroquois36719
Perry35315
Saline3464
Warren3332
Bond3305
Douglas3147
Wayne2805
Jo Daviess2662
Lawrence2592
Carroll2355
Greene22911
Cumberland2185
Hancock2183
Moultrie2183
Washington2161
Jasper2139
Richland2136
Pulaski1811
Fulton1780
Clark1742
White1690
Wabash1583
Clay1560
Johnson1560
Mason1531
Mercer1405
Piatt1390
Pike1341
De Witt1252
Menard1251
Edgar1138
Massac1132
Ford1055
Marshall1050
Alexander831
Scott790
Gallatin732
Hamilton712
Henderson690
Edwards640
Brown620
Calhoun600
Putnam570
Stark552
Schuyler500
Hardin400
Pope291
Out of IL20

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 118322

Reported Deaths: 3591
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion21502767
Lake10688323
Elkhart6707111
St. Joseph6619113
Allen6330205
Hamilton4938109
Vanderburgh378131
Hendricks2766124
Monroe265536
Tippecanoe256613
Johnson2352124
Clark225957
Porter219947
Delaware200162
Cass19559
Vigo186827
Madison170375
LaPorte149141
Floyd139664
Warrick138242
Howard132663
Kosciusko125917
Bartholomew118457
Marshall101524
Dubois99919
Boone99146
Grant95134
Hancock94643
Noble93132
Henry81226
Jackson7739
Wayne77014
Morgan73438
Daviess68028
Shelby68029
Dearborn67528
LaGrange64011
Clinton62314
Harrison59224
Putnam58411
Gibson5355
Knox5289
Lawrence51629
Montgomery51121
DeKalb48811
White48714
Decatur45939
Miami4394
Greene42735
Fayette42313
Jasper4012
Scott39011
Steuben3907
Posey3460
Sullivan33812
Jennings31612
Franklin31325
Clay3085
Ripley3078
Orange28824
Whitley2826
Carroll27813
Adams2763
Wabash2728
Starke2717
Washington2701
Wells2674
Spencer2633
Jefferson2503
Huntington2473
Fulton2442
Tipton22822
Randolph2238
Perry22113
Jay1920
Newton17411
Owen1711
Martin1680
Pike1641
Rush1574
Vermillion1310
Fountain1292
Blackford1213
Pulaski1141
Crawford1100
Parke1072
Brown1043
Benton870
Ohio797
Union790
Switzerland690
Warren411
Unassigned0226