After passing gun-reform bill, eyes are on Gov. Scott if plans to sign it

By David Bodden and Jeff Allen, Team Coverage
Last Updated: Thursday, March 08, 2018, 5:35 PM EST
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A controversial bill that was crafted since the Parkland shooting passed in the Florida House on Wednesday, but it is unclear if Gov. Rick Scott will sign it into law.

The bill was created as a result of the Parkland shooting that left 17 students and staff of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School dead and the shadow of the Pulse terror attack was lingering over it.

The bill passed with a 67-50 vote and it includes provisions to enable some school employees to be armed in the classroom.

Alarming some school employees is a measure Scott has openly opposed, but there is no ban on assault or assault-style weapons.

Most Democrats and some Republicans voted against the bill, but it still passed just 21 days after the Parkland shooting and two weeks since students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School protested in Tallahassee.

Some are concerned that arming school personnel could lead to racial profiling in the classroom. That is one of the reasons Democrats voted thumbs down on the bill. Republicans who voted against it say the bill goes too far in restricting gun access, raising the minimum age to buy an assault-style weapon and imposing a three-day waiting period on purchases.

"It's a deterrent to some of these weak, evil, sick individuals that would go in to kill indiscriminately. And if it saves one life, it's worth it. It's worth it." State Rep. Ralph Massullo, R- Lecanto, said about the bill.

Florida's Democratic Party issued a statement about the bill.

"SB 7026 was missing the key components, including banning assault weapons, universal background checks, and closing the gun show loop hole," it stated.

The governor has said that he opposes arming teachers, however, the bill stated that teachers who only teach will be excluded from being armed, however certain staff members can be.

Those staff members who can be armed include those "… classroom teachers of a Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps program; a current service member; and a current or former law enforcement officer."

It will be a watch and wait to learn if Scott plans to veto the bill. He has not made an announcement yet.

Parent reacts to bill passage

Polly DeLucia said the school shooting in Parkland brought school safety into focus like never before.

“It just all flipped over on Valentine’s Day,” DeLucia said.

DeLucia’s daughter goes to Seminole High School. Her other child is in preschool. She said she does not support teachers carrying guns into her childrens’ classrooms.

“Even those who might be carrying with the best of intentions, you’re in a room with small children, you’re in an area that’s just not secure, and it creates a wide margin for error and tragic accidents,” she said.  

DeLucia serves as the President of Seminole County Council PTA.  She said she likes everything else in the bill, but she believes school resource officers and deputies are the only people that should have guns in schools.

She said she believes having more of those law enforcement officers could be a better solution to increasing safety at schools.  

“If one officer is busy, another one is available,” DeLucia said.

Spectrum News 13 reached out to a representative from Orange County Public Schools, who gave us this statement:

“In their Feb. 27, 2018 school board meeting, Orange County School Board members expressed disapproval of arming any school employee other than sworn law enforcement. Orange County Public Schools always has and always will follow any required state law. Should local school boards hold decision-making powers regarding this law, the district will govern itself according to school board policy.”