Florida’s gun laws have quickly evolved since the state endured one of the deadliest school shootings in the country. Students and parents across the nation are more concerned about firearms in schools than ever before, and for a good reason. After 14 students and 3 educators lost their lives in a public high school in Parkland, people from both sides of the political aisle came together to draft measures to protect the children.
Whereas Florida’s laws once prohibited licensed gun owners from carrying concealed weapons on school property, a new law has provided funding for certain faculty members to receive firearm training so that they may possess guns in school.
The Florida House Passes the MSD Public Safety Act
The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School galvanized lawmakers to pass the MSD High School Public Safety Act just three weeks later, with 67 in favor of the bill and 50 opposed. Although the bill has received criticism from those who say it doesn’t go far enough and those opposed to any further firearm restrictions, the parents of the Parkland shooting victims welcomed the measure as a starting point for common-sense gun laws.
The bill made notable changes to existing gun laws, including raising the minimum age to purchase any firearm to 21 from 18, requiring a 3-day waiting period for all firearm purchases, and banning the sale and possession of bump stocks. One provision in particular, which provides resources for training and arming some educators, faced backlash from parents, educators, and even the governor.
New Law Brings Guns to School to Protect Students
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act provides for the funding of the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program — named after the football coach who lost his life. The program seeks to arm school employees whose duties extend beyond the classroom. Librarians, counselors, school psychologists, coaches, and even cafeteria workers would be eligible to receive training to carry guns on school property.
The voluntary school marshal program would permit superintendents to work with local sheriffs to train and arm designated staff members. Those who are eligible to participate would undergo 144 hours of training before carrying weapons in school. Many oppose the thought of bringing even more weapons near students, which student activists did not call for in the wake of the shooting.
Allowing school employees who are not full-time teachers to arm themselves with firearms on campus removes the designation of a “gun-free zone” from the schools that choose to participate in the program. Eliminating gun-free zones has been a long-time dream of the NRA.
Those who have been arrested for carrying concealed weapons in gun-free zones must seek competent legal representation to preserve their rights and reputation. At The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel, we have over 30 years of experience defending those accused of firearm offenses in West Palm Beach. Call 561-622-5575 for a free consultation.