Gun Legislation Passes Florida House 3 Weeks after Massacre

Gun Legislation Passes Florida House 3 Weeks after Massacre

Thursday, 8 March, 2018 - 06:30
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students, staff and teachers exit the building following their return to school in Parkland, Florida on February 28, 2018. AFP
Asharq Al-Awsat
The US State of Florida, which witnessed a deadly school shooting last month, has passed a bill that raises the legal age to buy rifles to 21 while funding a program that allows some teachers and school employees to be armed.

The "Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act" passed the legislature's lower house on Wednesday, a day after clearing the senate.

The Act, which takes its name from the mass shooting in which 17 people including 14 students were killed, will now be sent to Governor Rick Scott to sign. The Republican has not indicated whether he would veto the law, but he has previously expressed opposition to US President Donald Trump's call to arm teachers.

America's long moribund gun control debate was revived by survivors of the Parkland shooting, who a day after their school was attacked launched the "Never Again" movement demanding legislative action.

The bill raises the minimum age to purchase all firearms from 18 to 21, bans modification devices that make a semi-automatic weapon fully automatic, and increases mental health funding.

It also includes a voluntary "guardian program" named after Coach Aaron Feis who was slain in the Parkland attack, which is intended to "aid in the prevention or abatement of active assailant incidents on school premises" by allowing some school employees to be armed.

The program is mainly aimed at staff such as coaches and school personnel, with teachers eligible if they have military or law enforcement experience.

Meanwhile, a female student was killed and one person was wounded in a shooting at an Alabama high school on Wednesday that authorities are calling accidental.

No arrest has been made and police are in possession of the weapon used in the incident, Birmingham police Chief Orlando Wilson said.

"At this particular time, we consider it accidental until the investigation takes us elsewhere," Wilson added, according to an Alabama news website.

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