Students succeed in gun control where adults have failed

It looks like angry high school students have succeeded where adults have failed, in getting the Florida state legislature to pass at least some gun control laws.

Florida lawmakers bucked the National Rifle Association on Wednesday to pass new firearms regulations and create a program for arming some school employees in a rare act of Republican compromise on the divisive issue of gun violence.

The response to the slayings at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, signaled a major shift for a state known as a legal laboratory for gun rights activists. It could become a blueprint for other states looking at new measures to address mass shootings.

A bipartisan vote of 67-50 in the state House ended an emotional three-week process, in which the state’s legislative leadership toured the bloodstained hallways at the high school, and thousands of students marched on the state capital in Tallahassee to demand change.

After weeks of debate, lawmakers approved a bill that would impose a three-day waiting period for most purchases of long guns and raise the minimum age for purchasing those weapons to 21. The legislation also includes millions of dollars to improve school security and train and arm school employees.

Gov. Rick Scott, R, who supports most but not all of the provisions in the Florida bill and is exploring a U.S. Senate bid, reiterated his opposition to arming teachers Wednesday, but stopped short of threatening a veto.

In addition to the waiting period and an increase in the minimum age, the bill also would ban the possession or sale of bump stocks, which can make guns shoot with the speed of an automatic weapons.

State law enforcement would get new powers to temporarily remove weapons from people deemed to be a risk, and there would be a new judicial process to remove guns and ammunition from people deemed a threat to themselves or others.

These so-called “risk protection orders” have become a top-tier priority for gun control lobbyists, and lawmakers in 30 states have introduced or plan bills to give judges greater powers to remove guns. Five states, including California, Indiana and Connecticut, currently have the laws in place.

In the days leading up to the vote, the NRA’s Florida lobbyist Marion Hammer issued an “emergency alert” to members asking them to contact Republicans and demand they vote no. “Neither the 3-day waiting period on all rifles and shotguns, raising the age from 18 to 21 to buy any firearm, or the bump stock ban will have any effect on crime,” she wrote.

These moves would seem to be so commonsensical and minimal that one wonders why they should be celebrated. But one must remember that Florida is an extreme gun-crazy state, the place where the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law was first initiated. The chief NRA lobbyist in that state Marion Hammer (a former NRA president) is legendary for the power she wields over legislators, so much so that she simply calls them up and dictates to them what legislation they should pass and what they should do and say.

Getting even this done is significant, so kudos to the students.


  1. A Rash Anion says

    If the 3-day waiting period only applies to long guns, this bill falls sadly short of doing what needs to be done. Handguns (pistols and revolvers) are responsible for 90% of gun deaths but because people like them so much they are except from the waiting period? Ridiculous. I applaud the tiny step in the right direction but a lot more will need to be done, in my opinion, before we’ve made an impact.

    Don’t let it end here.

  2. kestrel says

    That’s pretty amazing that they got anywhere at all, especially in Florida. Good for them! I realize it’s not nearly enough but hey, it’s a start. Here is hoping it’s the beginning of significant change.

  3. jaxkayaker says

    If memory serves, Marion Hammer managed to block the Florida legislature from re-designating the Florida state bird from the mockingbird (common to many states) to the Florida scrub jay (uniquely endemic to Florida) because the Audubon Society, which was attempting to have the legislature make the change, had lobbied for something the NRA was against (or possibly had lobbied against something the NRA favored). Pretty petty.

  4. lanir says

    Uh… Pardon my cynicism but didn’t the NRA just get handed their pet solution alongside minor reforms that won’t affect them much? Adding more guns to the equation only sounds like a solution if you put your thumbs in your ears, ignore the realities of how and why people get shot along with what these situations look like to people in them while they’re happening, and shout NRA slogans at the top of your lungs. Oh and watch a few super macho action flicks to top off your ignorance, the better to insist that guns turn teachers into action heroes.

  5. Mark Dowd says

    @lanir: I seriously doubt any gun nuts actually give two.shits about arming teachers. The minor inconveniences (not even severe enough to cause regulations) are the real slap in their face to them.

  6. jrkrideau says

    For someone who does not live in the US, these new laws seem ridiculous but I suppose even a tiny step helps.

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