Florida Gov. Rick Scott Signs Bill That Tightens Gun Restrictions In The State

Mar 9, 2018
Originally published on March 9, 2018 8:03 pm
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Now to Florida. This afternoon in Tallahassee, Governor Rick Scott met with loved ones of the 17 people killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month. Scott also signed legislation tightening gun restrictions in the state.

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RICK SCOTT: I know that many wanted more gun control than what is included in this bill. And I know that many believe this bill has too much gun control. I respect the sincerity and the validity of both of these viewpoints.

SHAPIRO: NPR's Brakkton Booker joins us now from Parkland, Fla. Hi, Brakkton.

BRAKKTON BOOKER, BYLINE: Hey, Ari.

SHAPIRO: Describe that event this afternoon where family members were there, and tell us a little more about the bill the governor signed.

BOOKER: Sure. Now, before he signed the bill, Governor Scott thanked parents who lost children in the shooting for their help in getting the bill across the finish line. He also praised the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for fighting until there was change, saying that the students made the difference. Now, this bill passed the Florida Legislature with bipartisan support. And the fact is it got done really quickly - I mean, just three weeks after the shooting, Ari. This is pretty astonishing even for Tallahassee standards.

Now, here's a little bit of what is in the bill. It imposes a three-day waiting period for gun purchases. It bans bump stocks, those devices that make semi-automatic weapons act like a machine gun. The bill also expands funding to treat mental illness and broadens school safety programs. And it also allows school personnel, including some teachers, to carry guns on campus.

SHAPIRO: We heard Governor Scott there talking about the fact that some people are not happy about this bill. Tell us about the opposition.

BOOKER: Yes. This legislation was opposed by both teachers' unions because it allows for arming some school personnel and the NRA because it puts age restrictions on buying guns. Now, just a couple of hours after Governor Scott signed the bill into law, the National Rifle Association filed a suit to block it. The NRA says in the suit, quote, "Florida's law banning adult law-abiding citizens under 21 from purchasing firearms of any kind is unconstitutional under the Second Amendment and 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution."

It's interesting to note that Governor Scott has an A-plus rating from the NRA, but he told reporters after he signed the bill that he actually never talked to the gun lobby about the bill. So we'll see where things go from here.

SHAPIRO: There have also been some developments this week in the investigation and the case against the shooter. Tell us about that.

BOOKER: Yeah. The alleged gunman, Nikolas Cruz, appeared briefly today in court. A judge ordered him to remain in jail without bond. This comes a day after he withdrew his not guilty plea for his connection in the shooting. On Thursday, the Broward Sheriff's Office released 911 calls and police dispatch tapes of when deputies arrived on the campus during the shooting. I have a little bit of the tape here. Let's take a listen.

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SCOT PETERSON: Broward, do not approach the 12 or 1300 building. Stay at least 500 feet away at this point.

BOOKER: So these tapes paint a chaotic and frantic scene. There seems to be quite a bit of confusion among deputies there. The voice we heard was Scot Peterson. He is the armed school resource officer at Stoneman Douglas who has since resigned. He's come under scrutiny because he allegedly did not follow active shooter protocol, so he did not go in and engage the gunman. As the tape seems to suggest, he just called for a perimeter outside.

So some law enforcement experts I talked to told me this was absolutely the wrong command to give in this situation. They say they hope to see some video evidence. And the Broward Sheriff's Office tweeted out yesterday that there is surveillance video from outside the school that should be released quickly but added that the video release is still awaiting a judge's approval. So there's going to be more to come in the days ahead.

SHAPIRO: Well, thank you for following that story for us, NPR's Brakkton Booker in Parkland, Fla. Thanks, Brakkton.

BOOKER: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF FLUGHAND'S "DWARF") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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