Florida's Post-Parkland Gun Control Bill Clears Major Hurdle

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A gun control bill drafted in the wake of the Parkland shooting has passed Florida’s Republican-controlled Senate.

The Miami Herald reports that the bill appropriates $400 million for “school safety” programs and would raise the minimum age to buy guns from 18 to 21. It also bans bump stocks like those used in last year’s Vegas shooting, and expands the three-day waiting period, which is currently in place for people buying handguns, to include rifles and shotguns. (The weapon used in the Parkland shooting, an AR-15, is a semi-automatic rifle.)

It wasn’t a total victory for gun control supporters, however. A compromise struck by legislators exempted teachers from a controversial $67 million “school marshal” program, but will allow anyone else on campus who isn’t in a classroom full-time—including librarians, the New York Times points out—to carry a gun on campus if their school district opts into the program.


In addition, an amendment to ban all assault weapons was defeated 20–17. Parkland students and activists tweeted their responses to the news:


Five Republicans voted against the proposal. Three Democrats, including Broward County Sens. Lauren Book and Kevin Rader, voted for it. “My community was rocked. My school children were murdered in their classrooms,” Book said. “This is the first step in saying never again.”


The bill now moves to the Florida House for consideration. The Herald reports that leaders in the House, which is also controlled by Republicans, are looking to pass a bill by Friday, which is when the current legislative session ends.

To recap: A movement started by a group of high school students, who witnessed the murder of 17 friends and classmates just weeks ago, is very close to moving the needle on gun control in a Southern state where conservatives control every lever of government. It’s a rare bit of good news in 2018, and yet another reminder that tireless organizing and a little bit of political will can go a long way.