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Action Plan to Address Stoneman Douglas Tragedy Announced by Governor

-Courtesy Photo

By Robert Brown, Florida Association of Counties

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland visited Tallahassee last week in the wake of the February 14 shooting that left 17 students and faculty dead at their school. On Friday, Governor Rick Scott and the Florida State Legislature responded with comprehensive proposals that would see close to $500 million in funding for school safety improvements and enhanced mental health counseling. Major changes in gun laws are also in the proposals.

Governor Scott’s plan creates a “violent threat restraining order” allowing a court to prevent a violent person from having a gun when family members or law enforcement officers present evidence of a threat.

Scott’s plan also calls for school resource officers in every Florida public and charter school at a ratio of one for every 1,000 students; a Department of Children and Families case manager assigned to all 67 sheriffs; active shooter drills in every school; and state-approved school safety plans to be submitted from every school district by the Fall 2018.

House and Senate leadership intriduced a similar proposal. It includes a three-day waiting period for all gun purchases. The legislative plan also sets up a “marshal” program that would allow school employees trained and screened by law enforcement to carry guns on school grounds.

Under current law, a person deemed “mentally defective” by a court or committed to a mental institution is banned from buying a firearm. The House and Senate plan would strengthen that measure by prohibiting possession of any firearm as well.

The changes must be approved in the next two weeks of the annual legislative session that’s scheduled to end on March 9.