Florida Governor Unveils Major School Security Plan In Wake Of Shooting
Just more than one week after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Florida Governor Rick Scott introduced a wide-ranging plan to increase school security and prevent gun violence.
In an appearance on Friday morning, Scott called for a$450 million school security plan, prohibitions for people under 21 and the mentally ill to purchase guns, and a ban on bump stocks—a measure also supported by U.S. President Donald Trump.
"I've broken my action plan down into three sections. Gun laws, school safety, and mental health," Scott said. "We must get this done in the next two weeks."
Scott, and other Florida officials, have faced increasing pressure in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman shooting, which left 17 dead and numerous others wounded when a former student opened fire at the Parkland, Florida, high school with an AR-15.
"The goal of this plan of action is to make massive changes in protecting our schools, provide significantly more resources for mental health, and do everything we can to keep guns out of the hands of those dealing with mental problems or threatening harm to themselves or others," Scott said.
As part of the $450 million investment in school security, Scott called for a mandatory law enforcement officer in every Florida public school. The officer would either be a sworn sheriff's deputy or police officer, and present during all hours that students are on campus.
"The size of the campus should be a factor in determining staffing levels by the county sheriff's office, and I am proposing at least one law enforcement officer for every 1,000 students," Scott said. "This must be implemented by the start of the 2018 school year."
Additionally, Scott proposed requiring mandatory active shooter training for all public schools during the first week of each semester. Faculty and students would be required to participate in the drills, and local sheriff's offices would approve the training.
"We are also increasing funding in the Safe Schools Allocation to address specific school safety needs within each school district," Scott said. "This includes school hardening measures like metal detectors, bullet-proof glass, steel doors, and upgraded locks."
As part of this effort, the Florida Department of Education with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement would provide minimum school safety and security standards by July 1 to all school districts in the state. Then, schools would create school safety plans that would be submitted by July 1 of each year to their local county sheriff's office for approval.
"Once all plans and requests for school hardening have been approved by the county sheriff's office, in consultation with local police, plans will be forwarded to the Department of Education by the school district to receive any state funds," Scott added.
Under the plan, schools would also be required to have a threat assessment team that includes one teacher, a local law enforcement officer, a human resource officer, a principal, a Department of Juvenile Justice representative, and a Department of Children and Families officer to meet monthly to review potential threats to students and staff at the school.
"We will also require each school district that receives a Safe Schools Allocation to enter into an agreement with the local sheriff's office, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Law Enforcement, and any community behavioral health provider for the purpose of sharing information," Scott said. "That will allow us to better coordinate services in order to provide prevention or intervention strategies."
Scott's plan, however, did not advocate for arming teachers to address active shooters in school shootings. The omission marked a break with a proposal by U.S. President Donald Trump following the shooting that select teachers should be trained and receive a bonus for being armed.
But Scott did advocate for $50 million for mental health initiatives to expand mental health service teams to serve youth and young adults through counseling, crisis management, and other services. Sheriff's offices would also be required to have a Department of Children and Families case manager embedded in their department to work as a crisis welfare worker for repeat cases.Firearms
Scott said he will work to create a new program called the Violent Threat Restraining Order, which would be used to prevent "violent or mentally ill" people from purchasing guns.
"This will allow a court to prohibit a violent or mentally ill person from purchasing or possessing a firearm or any other weapon when either a family member, community welfare expert, or law enforcement officer files a sworn request, and presents evidence to the court of a threat of violence involving firearms or other weapons," Scott said. "There would be speedy due process for the accused and any fraudulent or false statements would face criminal penalties."
When introducing his plan, Scott referenced the alleged shooter in the Marjory Stoneman shooting—Nikolas Cruz—who legally purchased the AR-15 he used to carry out the shooting, despite receiving 39 visits from police, being expelled from school, and being reported to the FBI as a possible school shooter.
"And yet, he was never put on the list to be denied the ability to buy a gun, and his guns were never removed from him," Scott said.
The governor said he would use Florida's Baker Act to place restrictions on mentally ill individuals to purchase firearms. Individuals would also be prohibited from purchasing firearms if they are subject to injunctions for protection against talking, cyberstalking, dating violence, repeat violence, sexual violence, or domestic violence."
"If a court involuntarily commits someone because they are a risk to themselves or others, they would be required to surrender all firearms and not regain their right to purchase or possess a firearm until a court hearing," Scott said. "We are also proposing a minimum 60-day period before individuals can ask a court to restore access to firearms."
Additionally, Florida would prohibit firearm purchases to individuals under the age of 21—with exceptions for active duty and reserve military and their spouses, National Guard members, and law enforcement.
"There is nothing more important than the safety of our children," Scott said. "Our kids deserve nothing less. Fortunately, our economy is booming, and we have the resources to protect our schools and our students. And if providing this funding means we won't be able to cut taxes this year—so be it. And if we have to give up some of the projects we all hold near and dear—so be it."
Scott will now work to push his plan through the Florida state legislature, which has support from both state Democrats and Republicans, according to The New York Times.
"Going further than the governor's plan, lawmakers said they would seek to impose a three-day waiting period on all firearms purchases, which now exist only for handguns," the Times reports. "They also would create a statewide commission to investigate the school shooting in Parkland, including a number of failures by the authorities."