Gov. Rick Scott and Republican leadership in the Florida Legislature have rolled out their ideas for change in response to the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. But would these measures have made a difference in the worst mass shootings since the one in 2007 at Virginia Tech?
Waiting periods for gun purchases
Supporters: The House and Senate.
Opposition: Gov. Rick Scott, who didn’t really give a reason on Friday for why he opposed it.
Republican leadership in the House and Senate want a three-day waiting period to buy a gun, to “provide time for criminal background checks.” But it doesn’t look like that waiting period would have made a difference in any of the deadliest mass shootings since 2007.
A ban on bump stocks
Supporters: President Donald Trump endorsed a ban on bump stocks this week, providing an opening for Florida Republicans to get behind the idea. Congress failed to ban them after the Las Vegas shooting.
Opposition: Hardly anyone uses bump stocks. The National Rifle Association is mildly opposed to a ban but supports regulating them.
Bump stocks can turn a semi-automatic weapon into a nearly-fully-automatic weapon, which is illegal. But they’re seldom used, and the only recent mass shooting where they’ve been used is in Las Vegas, where the shooter was able to fire more than 1,100 rounds into a crowd of concert-goers.
Age limits to buy a rifle
Supporters: Gov. Rick Scott and the House and Senate leadership.
Opposition: The National Rifle Association, whose Florida lobbyist, Marion Hammer, said it was nothing more than a symbolic change. She said the Stoneman Douglas High School shooter, who was 19, would still have been able to get a rifle: “He could have bought one from a friend. He could have gone to a street corner where he knew somebody was selling guns — because in any major city, you can buy a gun in less than 30 minutes illegally.”
Currently, you have to be 21 to buy a handgun from a licensed dealer. But to buy an AR-15? You only have to be 18. Raising both ages to 21 would prevent some people from getting access to guns, but it has a gaping loophole: The rules don’t apply to private party sales, including those at gun shows.
Supporters: Lawmakers on all sides.
Opposition: Absolutely no one.
Lawmakers want to spend millions on metal detectors, bulletproof glass and steel doors in schools, plus drill students on how to respond to active shooters.
Supporters: Republicans, the National Rifle Association, and some sheriffs support it.
Opposition: It’s opposed by Democrats, most teachers and school superintendents, and the governor. “I disagree with arming teachers,” Gov. Rick Scott said. “You need law enforcement that is well trained. … Let teachers focus on teaching.”
This is, naturally, wildly controversial. The House/Senate plan would allow teachers and staff to go through special training to be able to carry concealed weapons in classrooms. Only eight states allow some teachers to be armed in classrooms.
Stronger background checks
Supporters: The governor.
Opposition: If the House and Senate are in favor of it, they haven’t mentioned it.
Gov. Rick Scott wants to prohibit people from buying or possessing guns if they’ve been given an injunction for domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking or cyberstalking.
Mental health funding for schoolchildren
Supporters: This has widespread and bipartisan support.
Opposition: No one.
Both sides want to spend more on mental health screening and training and on school counselors. But whether it would make a difference in school shootings is debatable. The Stoneman Douglas High School shooter had received some treatment while he was in school.
Gun violence restraining orders
Supporters: It’s supported by sheriffs, gun-control activists, House and Senate leaders and the governor, who want an easier method to take away guns from dangerous people.
Opposition: No one in Republican leadership. But they’ve reversed their opinions since the Stoneman Douglas shooting. State Sen. Audrey Gibson, a Democrat, introduced a bill this session that would have created this program, but the Republican-controlled Legislature never let it be heard in any committee.
Five other states allow family or police to petition a judge to temporarily take away the guns of someone who’s a threat to themselves or others. It’s a new program that police want so they can get someone help without arresting them or taking them to a hospital on a psychiatric hold.
Assault weapon ban
Supporters: Democrats in the Legislature want a ban, the Republicans’ own polls show support for a ban, but there is little chance this will happen.
Opposition: The National Rifle Association, Republican leadership and the Gov. Rick Scott. “Banning specific weapons and punishing law-abiding citizens is not going to fix this,” he said.
Military-style assault rifles like the AR-15 are easily the most common factor among the worst mass shootings since 2007. They’re able to fire more powerful rounds at greater distances than handguns, and eight of the 13 shootings were carried out primarily with these weapons. While they were federally banned between 1994 and 2004, the ban had its fair share of loopholes. And five of the mass shooters were able to use pistols and shotguns to cause devastation.