First Gun Restrictions in Florida in More Than 20 Years

The country’s deadliest school shooting since Sandy Hook continues to draw national attention over a month later. The massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which took the lives of 17 people in Parkland, Florida occurred on Valentine’s Day, yet has not faded from our news. Though previous shootings have taken more lives, Marjory Stoneman Douglas stands apart due to the galvanization of student activism.

Following the traumatic event, teen survivors of the shooting banded together to push for tighter gun restrictions. The students’ fierce activism has spawned a new gun control movement all over the country. Several survivors leading the movement have appeared on national television; one outspoken survivor runs a Twitter account with more followers than the NRA. It is because of their dedicated rallying that the tragedy has outlived a hashtag. These activists have moved politicians in the state of Florida to pass the first tangible gun control laws in over 20 years.

Governor Rick Scott Signs New Gun Laws after Parkland

Less than a month after the Parkland school shooting, Governor Rick Scott signed Senate Bill 7026, commonly known as the “Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act,” into law. While it is a significant step in the push for stricter gun laws, the bill omitted several provisions the students and their supporters desired, such as banning assault rifles and high-capacity magazines.

What does the bill accomplish?

The bill increases the age at which one can legally buy a gun by three years. Now, a person looking to purchase his first firearm must wait until he is 21. Had this law been in effect before the shooting, the gunman would not have been able to legally purchase the AR-15 rifle he used. Under federal law, citizens may not buy handguns from licensed dealers until they are 21 but can purchase shotguns and rifles at 18.

The bill establishes a three-day waiting period. Those looking to buy guns will have to wait three days or until the conclusion of a background check (whichever is longer) to receive their guns.

The new law bans bump stocks, which are accessories that can be attached to rifles that enable them to fire more bullets in less time. The Las Vegas gunman used bump stocks to murder over 50 people and wound over eight hundred more in a matter of minutes.

One of the bill’s more controversial measures is that it allows superintendents and sheriffs to equip faculty members with weapons. The bill would provide for a $67 million program under which certain employees, like counselors, coaches, and librarians, can be armed on school grounds after receiving training. The program will be voluntary.

In addition to arming public school employees who wish to be armed, the bill ensures more funding for public school security. More police officers will be hired to protect schools.

Finally, the bill expands mental health services. Florida school districts will receive state funding to provide counseling to students. Law enforcement officers will also be able to temporarily remove guns from anyone subject to involuntary psychiatric evaluation.

What this means for law-abiding gun owners

The bill primarily focuses on school security, as school shootings continue to ravage the nation. Parkland students hoped to be the last victims and used the hashtag #NeverAgain to raise awareness, yet just three weeks later a shooting took place in Alabama ending the life of a 17-year-old who wished to become a nurse. More recently, a 17-year-old male student shot two fellow students at a Maryland high school.

Law-abiding gun owners may have to wait longer to obtain new firearms if they are purchasing them from licensed dealers in Florida. Law-abiding gun owners under 21 will not be able to purchase new guns from licensed dealers. Private gun sales will not be affected.

What to do if you’re accused of a gun crime in Florida

The moment you suspect you are under investigation in relation to a firearms offense in Florida, you need to speak with an experienced criminal lawyer. The Umansky Law Firm employs a strong team of dedicated criminal defense attorneys in Orlando who hold over 100 years of experience providing second chances to those accused of crimes throughout Central Florida. Call 407-228-3838 for a free case review or get in touch with us online. We are available 24/7 to chat.