Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Florida steps closer to arming teachers after Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting

Credit: AP

Florida has moved a step closer to arming some teachers after politicians passed a school safety bill in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

The new laws, which include restrictions on the sale of rifles, still need to be signed off by the state's governor Rick Scott - who has declined to say whether he will give them the go ahead.

The 67-50 vote reflected a mix of Republicans and Democrats in support and opposition.

The measure, a response to the shootings at the Parkland high school that left 17 dead, is supported by the victims' families.

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

Nikolas Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of first-degree murder after the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Credit: PA

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

Andrew Pollack, who lost his 18-year-old daughter Meadow in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, supported the bill.

"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," he 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."

17 people were killed in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Credit: AP

Democratic Representative 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 four-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 Representative Kristin Jacobs said she did not like the idea of arming teachers, but she voted yes.

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.

Republican Republican Jay Fant said raising the minimum age to buy a rifle was unconstitutional and he voted no.

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.