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New bills propose gun controls, school law enforcement frameworks, Sunshine exemptions

A set of three new proposed bills in the Florida House announced Monday seek to make significant changes in the state’s gun laws.

Among the proposals: Raise the minimum age for buying a gun in Florida to 21, expand the three-day waiting period to cover the purchase of all firearms, ban “bump stocks,” and create new frameworks of law enforcement, educational, social, and mental health programs to address school safety.

The bills also would create a “restraining order” provision in Florida law that would allow law enforcement officers to seize firearms from individuals who have been deemed to have made “credible threat of violence against another person.”

The proposals also would ban anyone committed for mental health treatment from possessing firearms.

The bills also rewrite many of the requirements for how law enforcement agencies and schools share and track information and respond, and create wide-ranging exemptions to Sunshine Laws, keeping secret the identities of school marshals, school shooting victims, and activities of the special commission investigating the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass murder.

The bills, Proposed Committee Bills 18-06, 18-07, and 18-08, were filed with the Florida House Appropriations Committee, as the legislative framework to the school safety reform packages announced last Friday by state House Speaker Richard Corcoran. On Friday he and Senate President Joe Negron, Gov. Rick Scott, and others announced the packages in response to the Feb. 15 crazed-gunman mass shooting at Douglas High that killed 17 people and upended Florida.

PCB APC 18-06 is the omnibus bill, running 67 pages. It addresses gun control measures, and creates frameworks for schools and law enforcement, including new units within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Florida Department of Education, including a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Commission, and provides for student crime watch programs and other societal responses to potential threats to school safety.

PCB APC 18-07 and PCB APC 18-08 deal with creating Sunshine Law exemptions for meetings of the Douglas High commission, and identities of school marshals, reporting parties in school safety matters, or victims in any acts of mass violence.

Under PCB APC 18-06, bump stocks, used to turn assault weapons into rapid-fire guns, would be banned. The minimum age for anyone to buy a firearm in Florida would be raised to 21. The state’s three-day waiting period for the purchase of handguns would be expanded to include all firearms.

Law enforcement would be given the power to temporarily seize firearms from people deemed to have threatened others, with the opportunity to extend that seizure if a judge can be convinced to issue a restraining order.

Anyone adjudicated as being mentally defective or court-ordered into hospital treatment for mental illness would be banned from possessing firearms.

The bill also would make a number of changes in the responsibilities of law enforcement agencies and schools. The position of school marshals would be created for someone given extensive training and then authorized to act “to the extent necessary to prevent or abate an active assailant incident on school premises.”

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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