(Reuters) - The Florida House of Representatives on Wednesday approved by a 67-50 vote a gun-safety package that would raise the legal age for buying rifles, impose a three-day waiting period on all gun sales and allow some public school personnel to be armed.
The bill is in response to the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in which 14 students and three faculty members were killed. The accused shooter, Nikolas Cruz, legally purchased the AR-15-style assault rifle used in the killings when he was 18.
The measure, previously approved by the state Senate, would automatically become law within 15 days unless vetoed by Florida Governor Rick Scott.
Here are highlights:
GUN SAFETY CONTROLS
- Imposes a three-day waiting period for the purchase of all firearms, not just handguns, or until a background check is completed, whichever is longer. Exemptions apply to holders of concealed-weapons permits, people with hunting licenses or who have completed a hunter-safety program, law enforcement or corrections officers and members of the U.S. military.
- Raises the minimum legal age to purchase a rifle or shotgun to 21 from 18. Federal law already prohibits anyone under 21 from buying a handgun.
- Outlaws bump stocks, which enable a semi-automatic weapon to be fired as an automatic weapon. Such devices were used in a mass shooting in Las Vegas last year that took 58 lives.
ARMING SCHOOL STAFF
- Allows local sheriff’s departments to establish a “guardian program” in which school personnel can be permitted to voluntarily carry a gun on the job. Those who do must undergo special training, mental health and drug screening and be licensed to carry a concealed weapon. Each school district would decide whether to opt into the program.
- Excludes classroom teachers unless they are Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps instructors, serve in the military or have been police officers. Otherwise, only non-teacher personnel are eligible, such as administrators, guidance counselors, librarians and coaches.
- Allows police to temporarily seize firearms from someone who has been taken into custody for an involuntary mental examination under Florida’s so-called Baker Act statute.
- Prohibits anyone from owning or possessing a firearm who has been judged mentally incompetent or has been committed to a mental institution, until a court rules otherwise.
- Allows police to petition a court for a “risk-protection” order of up to 12 months barring an individual from possessing firearms if that person is deemed dangerous because of a mental illness or violent behavior.
- Creates a “mental health assistance allocation” to help school districts establish or expand school-based psychiatric care.
- Appropriates $400 million to implement the bill’s provisions, including $98 million to improve and “harden” the physical security of school buildings, and $25 million to replace the building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in which the shootings took place.
Compiled in Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Editing by Steve Gorman, Peter Cooney, Toni Reinhold
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