Florida Legislature Passes Sweeping Gun Reform Bill; UPDATE: Gov. Scott Signs Bill Into Law

UPDATE (03/09/18):

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act that barely passed in the Florida Senate Monday evening and passed in the Florida House Wednesday night has now become law. Florida Governor Rick Scott signed the legislation that will drastically change the state’s gun laws earlier this afternoon.


***Original Post***

The Florida legislature passed sweeping gun reform Wednesday night, and the bill is now heading toward Governor Rick Scott’s desk as the state waits to see if he will sign it into law. While the legislation is far from perfect, each party gave a little and got a little, and it included things both sides could agree on.

The Florida House passed the bill by a 67-50 vote after it squeaked by the Florida Senate Monday night. Fifty-seven Republicans and ten Democrats voted in favor of the legislation.

The legislation tackles issues like bump stocks and raising the age for rifle purchases, calls for increased school security and mental health services, allows law enforcement to confiscate firearms from those who are legitimate threats to themselves and others, and allows specific school employees to carry guns on school grounds.

POLITICO’s Marc Caputo gave a great overview of what is in the bill:

The bill offers stricter gun control measures by raising the age limit for purchases from 18 to 21 and requires a three-day waiting period for the purchase of all weapons. There’s also a ban on bump stocks, which make the rapid shooting easier.

The bill also includes money for school districts to hire more school resource officers, and programs that beef up mental health services. There is a provision that expands the powers of law enforcement by allowing them to temporarily suspend someone’s gun rights if they are admitted for psychiatric evaluation under the state Baker Act. They could also petition a court to extend the suspension of powers over the 72-hour life of the Baker Act to 60 days.

Perhaps the most controversial provision is the Aaron Feis Guardian Program, which would deploy highly-trained school employees under the direction of the sheriff in each county. It was named after a Stoneman Douglas assistant football coach killed in the attack.


While Floridians are focusing on the change to the legal age to purchase a rifle, the provision that will allow law enforcement officers to confiscate an individual’s firearms temporarily is going almost unnoticed. Similar to Washington’s “protection orders” and the Gun Violence Restraining Orders (GVROs) discussed by National Review‘s David French, the Florida bill creates the “Risk Protection Order Act.”

Here’s more from Caputo:

Additionally, the legislation creates the “Risk Protection Order Act” that allows police to petition a court to allow law enforcement to temporarily seize ammunition and guns for up to a year from a person who “poses a significant danger of causing personal injury to himself or herself or others.”

Under this risk protection order section of the bill, a judge can grant the order based on a variety of criteria, including whether the gun owner has committed or threatened an act of violence in the prior year, is a stalker or has been convicted, had adjudication withheld or pleaded no contest to a domestic violence charge. In emergency situations, police can seize the weapons without a full hearing, which would be conducted after the fact.

United States Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is supportive of GVROs and is hoping to implement similar legislation at the national level.

Whether one agrees with the legislation in its entirety or not, the Florida legislature is showing just how efficient state government can be. If either side wants to enact change, on any policy issue, not just gun policy, it would be best for state governments to take a more proactive role. Rather than wait on politicians in Washington, D.C. to get their acts together, Florida is showing the country how to create bipartisan legislation.


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