Following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in February, Florida lawmakers have signed into law a new bill that will serve as the first step towards gun law reform in the state.
Family members of the Parkland mass shooting surrounded Gov. Rick Scott (R) as he signed the bipartisan bill named "Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act," in honor of the 17 victims killed by shooter Nikolas Cruz.
“I am going to do what I think are common-sense solutions,” Scott said after the signing. “I think this is the beginning. There is now going to be a real conversation about how we make our schools safe.”
On Feb. 14, Cruz entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with a legally purchased AR-15 assault rifle killing 17 innocent bystanders. He was indicted on 34 counts of premeditated murder and attempted murder for the massacre. Since the shooting, gun law reform has dominated national politics.
President Donald Trump has drawn criticism for his proposal to arm teachers in an attempt to prevent future shootings of this nature. Survivors of the shooting spearheaded a new movement of gun law reform activism that has challenged the National Rifle Association's grip on the Republican party.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott signs school safety bill into law. The bill enacts some gun controls opposed by the NRA but also includes controversial measure to arm some teachers and other school personnel. https://t.co/Uvk77ytc3s pic.twitter.com/DU74QmpsRS— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) March 9, 2018
The $400 million dollar bill aims to appease both camps, but activists claim that the bill will not do enough to actually stop the root issue: American gun culture.
According to ABC News, the new piece of legislation will raise the age to purchase a gun to 21 from the previous age of 18 and also require a three-day waiting period for long guns.
Also, a measure in the bill will allow teachers within a district that has opted into the teacher-arming provision to carry weapons. Some teachers, and other school personnel, will undergo special training sanctioned by the state so that they are skilled enough to carry a weapon as part of the guardian program.
The Washington Post reports that hundreds of millions of dollars in new spending will also be allocated for school security and mental health treatment.
Critics of the bill, like civil rights organization Advancement Project, claim that black and brown students will suffer the most and that the new legislation will only help facilitate the school to prison pipeline.
BREAKING: @FLGovScott just signed sign a bill into law that allocates $400 Million for more police in schools and allows teachers to carry guns. Make no mistake, this will make schools unsafe for Black and Brown students.— Advancement Project (@adv_project) March 9, 2018
Even with the passage of the bill, activists like Parkland survivor Emma Gonzalez still demand change and will continue to protest:
Reminder to every politician calling us children: I turn 18 in June, Emma’s already 18... You should be scared.— Lex (@lexforchange) March 9, 2018
They had working metal detectors in their school. When will people realize that this isn’t a School Only Issue-that it’s not about Protecting the Schools it’s about Protecting Everyone. This happens at Malls, Churches, On front Porches - THE COMMON THREAD IS GUNS AND GUN CULTURE— Emma González (@Emma4Change) March 8, 2018
There are marches and protests scheduled for March 17 and 24 that will demand change from politicians in Washington D.C.