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Florida legislators discuss changes to gun-control laws

Florida legislators discuss changes to gun-control laws
Florida legislators discuss changes to gun-control laws
Posted at 4:51 PM, Feb 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-19 20:34:51-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (The News Service of Florida) - Several events are planned around the state capital this week, as politicians figure out what to do following last week’s school shooting in Parkland that left 17 dead.

On Tuesday, Governor Rick Scott has scheduled three workshops to look at how to improve school safety, expand mental health services, and ensure those struggling from mental illness do not have access to guns.

Following the individual workshops early in the day, Scott will meet the groups in the evening to discuss ideas.

Additionally, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, the scene of last week’s shooting, plan to travel to the capitol Wednesday, to join with other gun-control advocates in meetings with lawmakers.

Finally, one thing originally scheduled for this week will not be happening after all.

A bill that would allow designated people to carry concealed firearms on school grounds had been on Tuesday’s agenda of the Senate Judiciary Committee, but was pulled by the committee chair over the weekend.

State Senator Dennis Baxley says his bill is still a good idea, but will be tough to pass in the current political climate.

“Sterilizing the environment is not solving the problem," said State Sen. Baxley, R- Ocala. "It’s a behavioral issue, not a hardware issue. What we have to do in the immediacy of it is figure out how to interrupt an incident so it doesn’t become a massacre.”

Democratic State Representative Joe Geller has an alternative plan, which has yet to be scheduled by a House committee. Geller’s idea involving hiring at least one on-duty law enforcement officer for each public school in Florida, and multiple officers for larger high schools like Stoneman Douglas.

“What we don’t want is vigilantism. We don’t want people who aren’t properly trained," said State Sen. Geller, D- Aventura. "Security guards don’t cut it. This is not just about having someone with a weapon.”

Senate and House leaders are also working to see what, if anything, can be done in the final three weeks of the 2018 legislative session to change laws on who can own assault rifles, creating waiting periods to purchase them and revising the state’s background check process.

Substantially stronger gun laws, including banning semiautomatic weapons and high-capacity magazines, seem unlikely in the Republican-dominated Florida legislature.