Major Changes to Florida’s Gun Laws

With another deadly school shooting serving as the final straw, Florida lawmakers have made significant changes to their gun laws, despite fervent opposition from the NRA and a long history of permissive legislation.

While the final bill signed by Florida governor Rick Scott does not include everything activists sought, such as an assault weapons ban, it does change the minimum age and waiting period for gun purchases, bans bump stocks, and affects both security and mental health services on school campuses.

The new law, passed by a majority-Republican legislature, includes six major changes to Florida's gun laws:

Raises Minimum Age and Implements Waiting Period

Dubbed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act after the Parkland shooting, the law raises the minimum gun-purchasing age from 18 to 21 (the Parkland shooter was 19). It also mandates a three-day waiting period for most gun sales (previously, this only applied to handguns). The NRA argues the law violates the right to bear arms and unfairly prevents law-abiding citizens between 18 and 21 from purchasing guns.

Bump Stocks Banned

Made famous by the Las Vegas shooting which left 58 people dead and hundreds injured, bump stocks allow a semi-automatic gun to fire at a rate similar to that of a fully automatic weapon. The new law bans these devices. Even the NRA supports this prohibition.

Armed School Employees

On the flip side of this legislation, the law's guardian program allows some school employees to carry concealed handguns if their district participates in the program and they complete the requisite training. The NRA supports this idea, while teachers' unions and gun-control activists generally oppose it.

Funding for Mental Health and School Security

In addition to making it harder to purchase guns, Florida's new gun law includes funding for school districts to provide mental health services to its students, and makes it tougher for violent or mentally ill people to purchase or possess a gun. The funding is also intended to beef up the security measures on school campuses, including an increased presence of police officers.

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