Critics Across Partisan Lines Blast Florida’s New Gun Law

Florida Gov. Rick Scott talks to the media in his office after signing the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Act at the Florida Capital in Tallahassee, Fla., Friday, March 9, 2018.

By Published on March 11, 2018

TALAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The political and legal fallout from Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s decision to sign a sweeping gun bill into law following a school massacre was nearly immediate as the National Rifle Association filed a lawsuit to stop it and political candidates in both parties criticized it.

Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, who’s running for Florida governor as a champion of gun rights, went on Fox News late Friday night to criticize the law, which raises the minimum age to buy rifles from 18 to 21; extends a three-day waiting period for handgun purchases to include long guns; and bans bump stocks, which allow guns to mimic fully automatic fire.

“I think when you start getting into some of the blanket restrictions on people’s Second Amendment rights, I think that that is constitutionally vulnerable. … I mean think about it, you have an enumerated right in the Bill of Rights, there’s really no precedent to just do a blanket ban on certain adults,” DeSantis said on the show.

Grieving families and student survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, where a shooter killed 17 people last month, worked feverishly in recent weeks to lobby a gun-friendly, Republican-run state government. The new law fell short of achieving a ban on assault-style weapons, but it creates a so-called guardian program enabling some teachers and other school employees to carry guns.

Five legislators seeking statewide office voted against it, as did the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. GOP Attorney General Pam Bondi praised it, but other statewide candidates in the Legislature voted against it. Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam has expressed his displeasure with the age limits.

Help us champion truth, freedom, limited government and human dignity. Support The Stream »

Scott, who’s expected to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson this year, has said the legislation shows Florida can move quickly and “get things done,” unlike the federal government. Scott has already blasted Nelson for failing to act on guns while he’s been in Congress.

Democrats, meanwhile, were quick to fault Scott and legislators for failing to include a ban on some types of semi-automatic rifles such as the one used in the Parkland shootings.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum said that “Florida’s elected officials simply have not done enough to stop our gun violence epidemic, and that remains true even with the Governor’s signature today.”

Miami Beach Mayor and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine said in a statement the law “falls short of the public demands set by the majority of Floridians and the student survivors” of the shooting. “We need to ban assault weapons, pass universal background checks, and we certainly don’t need more guns in our schools.”

Separately, the Trump administration on Saturday said it has taken the first step in the regulatory process to ban bump stocks.

The NRA contends the new law is unconstitutional because it raises the minimum age to buy rifles and puts a blanket ban on the fundamental rights of some law-abiding Florida citizens.

“The deranged murderer in Parkland, Florida, gave repeated warning signs that were ignored by federal and state officials. If we want to prevent future atrocities, we must look for solutions that keep guns out of the hands of those who are a danger to themselves or others, while protecting the rights of law-abiding Americans,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director, National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action.

Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old former student accused in the school massacre, faces 17 counts of murder and attempted murder. Cruz’s public defender has said he will plead guilty if prosecutors take the death penalty off the table and sentence him to life in prison instead. Prosecutors have not announced a decision.


Copyright 2018 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Print Friendly
Comments ()
The Stream encourages comments, whether in agreement with the article or not. However, comments that violate our commenting rules or terms of use will be removed. Any commenter who repeatedly violates these rules and terms of use will be blocked from commenting. Comments on The Stream are hosted by Disqus, with logins available through Disqus, Facebook, Twitter or G+ accounts. You must log in to comment. Please flag any comments you see breaking the rules. More detail is available here.
Checking My Heart Before I Tweet
Liberty McArtor
More from The Stream
Connect with Us