Breaking News Bar
updated: 3/7/2018 9:48 PM

Gun legislation passes Florida House, goes to governor

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • Florida Speaker of the House, Rep. Richard Corcoran, center, (R-Lutz) hugs Hunter Pollack, brother of high school shooting victim Meadow Pollack, after the school safety bill passed the House 67-50 at the Florida Capital in Tallahassee, Fla., Wednesday March 7, 2018. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, right, looks on.

    Florida Speaker of the House, Rep. Richard Corcoran, center, (R-Lutz) hugs Hunter Pollack, brother of high school shooting victim Meadow Pollack, after the school safety bill passed the House 67-50 at the Florida Capital in Tallahassee, Fla., Wednesday March 7, 2018. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, right, looks on.
    Associated Press

  • Rep, Joseph Abruzzo, D- Boyton Beach, left, debates the gun/school safety bill on the floor of the House, Wednesday, March 7, 2018 in Tallahassee. (Scott Keeler/The Tampa Bay Times via AP)

    Rep, Joseph Abruzzo, D- Boyton Beach, left, debates the gun/school safety bill on the floor of the House, Wednesday, March 7, 2018 in Tallahassee. (Scott Keeler/The Tampa Bay Times via AP)
    Associated Press

  • Andrew Pollack, father of 18 year-old school shooting victim Meadow Pollack, stands to applause in the Florida House gallery after the school safety bill passed the House 67-50 at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla., Wednesday, March 7, 2018.

    Andrew Pollack, father of 18 year-old school shooting victim Meadow Pollack, stands to applause in the Florida House gallery after the school safety bill passed the House 67-50 at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla., Wednesday, March 7, 2018.
    Associated Press

  • Florida Rep. Patricia Williams (D-Ft. Lauderdale), foreground, pats Rep. Roy Hardemon (D-Miami) on the back aster Hardemon said he got rid of his guns during the school safety debate on the House floor at the Florida Capital in Tallahassee, Fla., Wednesday March 7, 2018.

    Florida Rep. Patricia Williams (D-Ft. Lauderdale), foreground, pats Rep. Roy Hardemon (D-Miami) on the back aster Hardemon said he got rid of his guns during the school safety debate on the House floor at the Florida Capital in Tallahassee, Fla., Wednesday March 7, 2018.
    Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Feb. 19, 2018 file photo, Nikolas Cruz, accused of murdering 17 people in the Florida high school shooting, appears in court for a status hearing in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Cruz was formally charged Wednesday, March 7, with 17 counts of first-degree murder, which could mean a death sentence if he is convicted. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, Pool, File)

    FILE - In this Feb. 19, 2018 file photo, Nikolas Cruz, accused of murdering 17 people in the Florida high school shooting, appears in court for a status hearing in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Cruz was formally charged Wednesday, March 7, with 17 counts of first-degree murder, which could mean a death sentence if he is convicted. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, Pool, File)
    Associated Press

  • School safety bill Florida House sponsor Rep. Jose Oliva, second from left, (R-Hialeah) is joined by the House members in applauding Andrew Pollack, father of 18 year-old school shooting victim Meadow Pollack, after a school safety bill passed the House 67-50 at the Florida Capital in Tallahassee, Fla., Wednesday March 7, 2018.

    School safety bill Florida House sponsor Rep. Jose Oliva, second from left, (R-Hialeah) is joined by the House members in applauding Andrew Pollack, father of 18 year-old school shooting victim Meadow Pollack, after a school safety bill passed the House 67-50 at the Florida Capital in Tallahassee, Fla., Wednesday March 7, 2018.
    Associated Press

  • Front to back, Rep. Bobby Payne (R-Palatka), Rep. Clay Yarborough (R- Jacksonville) and Rep. Rick Roth (R- Palm Beach) look at their mobile devices on the House floor as the school safety debate moves into the afternoon at the Florida Capital in Tallahassee, Fla., Wednesday March 7, 2018.

    Front to back, Rep. Bobby Payne (R-Palatka), Rep. Clay Yarborough (R- Jacksonville) and Rep. Rick Roth (R- Palm Beach) look at their mobile devices on the House floor as the school safety debate moves into the afternoon at the Florida Capital in Tallahassee, Fla., Wednesday March 7, 2018.
    Associated Press

  • Florida Speaker of the House Rep. Richard Corcoran (R-Lutz) speaks with Representatives and Senators at the dais during the school safety debate on the House floor at the Florida Capital in Tallahassee, Fla., Wednesday March 7, 2018.

    Florida Speaker of the House Rep. Richard Corcoran (R-Lutz) speaks with Representatives and Senators at the dais during the school safety debate on the House floor at the Florida Capital in Tallahassee, Fla., Wednesday March 7, 2018.
    Associated Press

  • Florida Rep. Chris Sprowls (R-Clearwater) talks with Rep. Cord Byrd (R-Jacksonville) during the school safety debate on the House floor at the Florida Capital in Tallahassee, Fla., Wednesday March 7, 2018.

    Florida Rep. Chris Sprowls (R-Clearwater) talks with Rep. Cord Byrd (R-Jacksonville) during the school safety debate on the House floor at the Florida Capital in Tallahassee, Fla., Wednesday March 7, 2018.
    Associated Press

  • Rep. Patricia Williams , D- Lauderdale Lakes, lends support to Rep. Roy Hardemon, D- Miami, after Hardemon spoke against a school safety bill, Wednesday, March 7, 2018 in Tallahassee. (Scott Keeler/The Tampa Bay Times via AP)

    Rep. Patricia Williams , D- Lauderdale Lakes, lends support to Rep. Roy Hardemon, D- Miami, after Hardemon spoke against a school safety bill, Wednesday, March 7, 2018 in Tallahassee. (Scott Keeler/The Tampa Bay Times via AP)
    Associated Press

  • Florida Rep. Kristin Diane Jacobs, speaks on the gun safety bill in the House chamber at the Florida Capital in Tallahassee, Fla., Wednesday, March 7, 2018.

    Florida Rep. Kristin Diane Jacobs, speaks on the gun safety bill in the House chamber at the Florida Capital in Tallahassee, Fla., Wednesday, March 7, 2018.
    Associated Press

  • Florida House bill sponsor Rep. Jose Oliva, center, (R- Hialeah), watches the vote board at the Florida Capital in Tallahassee, Fla., Wednesday March 7, 2018. The Florida House has passed a school safety bill that includes new restrictions on rifle sales and a program to arm some teachers. The House voted 67-50 Wednesday on a bill that's a response to the Feb. 14 shooting at a high school that killed 17 people.

    Florida House bill sponsor Rep. Jose Oliva, center, (R- Hialeah), watches the vote board at the Florida Capital in Tallahassee, Fla., Wednesday March 7, 2018. The Florida House has passed a school safety bill that includes new restrictions on rifle sales and a program to arm some teachers. The House voted 67-50 Wednesday on a bill that's a response to the Feb. 14 shooting at a high school that killed 17 people.
    Associated Press

  • Florida Rep. Michael Bileca (R-Miami), center left, listens as Rep. Chris Latvala (R-Clearwater) speak on the school safety bill in the House chamber at the Florida Capital in Tallahassee, Fla., Wednesday, March 7, 2018.

    Florida Rep. Michael Bileca (R-Miami), center left, listens as Rep. Chris Latvala (R-Clearwater) speak on the school safety bill in the House chamber at the Florida Capital in Tallahassee, Fla., Wednesday, March 7, 2018.
    Associated Press

  • Florida Rep. Jared Moskowitz, right, D-Coral Springs, regains his composure during his debate of the school safety bill as Rep. Shevrin D. Jones, D-West Park, looks on just prior to the vote at the Florida Capital in Tallahassee, Fla., Wednesday March 7, 2018.

    Florida Rep. Jared Moskowitz, right, D-Coral Springs, regains his composure during his debate of the school safety bill as Rep. Shevrin D. Jones, D-West Park, looks on just prior to the vote at the Florida Capital in Tallahassee, Fla., Wednesday March 7, 2018.
    Associated Press

  • Florida Rep. Jason Brodeur, left, (R- Sanford), watches the vote board as he votes on the school safety bill which passed the House 67-50 at the Florida Capital in Tallahassee, Fla., Wednesday, March 7, 2018.

    Florida Rep. Jason Brodeur, left, (R- Sanford), watches the vote board as he votes on the school safety bill which passed the House 67-50 at the Florida Capital in Tallahassee, Fla., Wednesday, March 7, 2018.
    Associated Press

 
 

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The Florida House passed a school safety bill Wednesday that includes new restrictions on rifle sales and a program to arm some teachers, sending the measure to the governor for his signature.

The vote of 67-50 reflected a mix of Republicans and Democrats in support and opposition. The measure, a response to the shootings at a Parkland high school that left 17 dead, is supported by the victims' families.

Andrew Pollack, who lost his 18-year-old daughter Meadow in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, and Ryan Petty, who lost his 14-year-old daughter Alaina, said there was enough good in the bill that it should pass.

"More needs to be done, and it's important for the country to be united in the same way the 17 families united in support of this bill," Pollack said after the vote. "My precious daughter Meadow's life was taken, and there's nothing I can do to change that, but make no mistake, I'm a father and I'm on a mission. I'm on a mission to make sure I'm the last dad to ever read a statement of this kind."

Democratic Rep. Jared Moskowitz, a former Parkland city commissioner, ended the eight hours of debate with an emotional account of seeing the high school after the shooting, attending victims' funerals and working with students and families while the House was forming the legislation. He broke down in tears after talking about how his 4-year-old son's writing teacher lost her daughter in the attack.

"You don't need to stand with me. I don't need you to stand with me. I need you to stand with the families," Moskowitz said.

Democratic Rep. Kristin Jacobs said she did not like the idea of arming teachers, but she voted yes. Republican Rep. Jay Fant said raising the minimum age to buy a rifle from 18 to 21 was unconstitutional, and he voted no.

"There is a cultural divide in this room, in this state and across the country. And there's a bill before us that is not perfect," said Jacobs, whose district includes Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The bill would raise the minimum age to buy rifles from 18 to 21 and create a waiting period on sales of the weapons. It would also create a so-called guardian program that would let school employees and many teachers carry handguns if they go through law enforcement training and if the school district decides to participate in the program.

Other provisions would create new mental health programs for schools; establish an anonymous tip line where students and others could report threats to schools, ban bump stocks and improve communication between schools, law enforcement and state agencies.

Fant, who is running for attorney general, said the gun restrictions violated the constitution.

"I just can't imagine that Nikolas Cruz can commit such a heinous crime and then as a result we tell, potentially, a 20-year-old single mother living alone that she cannot purchase a firearm to defend herself," Fant said.

The Florida Senate narrowly passed the bill Monday. Gov. Rick Scott declined to say Wednesday whether he would sign the legislation.

Scott has repeatedly said he doesn't support arming teachers and pushed lawmakers adopt his proposal, which called for at least one law enforcement officer in every school and one for every thousand students who attend a school.

"I'm going to take the time and I'm going to read the bill and I'm going to talk to families," Scott told reporters.

Shooting suspect Cruz was formally charged with 17 counts of first-degree murder Wednesday, which could mean a death sentence if he is convicted.

The indictment returned by a grand jury in Fort Lauderdale also charges the 19-year-old with 17 counts of attempted murder for the Valentine's Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in which 17 people died and more than a dozen others were wounded.

Cruz's public defender has said he will plead guilty if prosecutors take the death penalty off the table, which would mean a life prison sentence. Prosecutors have 45 days to decide whether they want to seek the death penalty.

James and Kimberly Snead, the couple who gave Cruz a home after his mother died late last year, testified before the grand jury. James Snead and the couple's attorney, Jim Lewis, wore silver "17" pins to honor the victims of the shooting.

"We'll let justice take its course at this point," Lewis said. "They still don't know what happened, why this happened. They don't have any answers. They feel very badly for everybody."

___

Anderson reported from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Replogle reported from Parkland, Florida. Associated Press writers Gary Fineout in Tallahassee, Florida, and Freida Frisaro, David Fischer and Jennifer Kay in Miami contributed to this report.

___

Follow the AP's complete coverage of the Florida school shooting here: https://apnews.com/tag/Floridaschoolshooting

Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.