Finally, after endless debate and countless shootings in schools all across the United States, it seems the first steps are finally being made towards gun reform. On Friday, March 9, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, a bi-partisan compromise bill that regulates many aspects of purchasing a gun that came into play prior to the shooting in Parkland.
Many Americans are hoping similar steps will be taken in other states, if not at a federal level.
But it also includes some controversial sections, including a measure to arm some teachers and a conspicuous lack of legislation regarding assault rifles..
This legislation was clearly influence by the #NeverAgain movement, spearheaded by survivors of the shooting in Parkland, Florida.
On February 14, a gunman killed 17 innocent people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. In the wake of this terrible tragedy, many survivors became vocal advocates of stricter gun control laws, appearing all across the media and organizing the March for Our Lives, which will take place in Washington D.C. on March 24 and is expected to host 500,000 people.
Governor Scott doesn't agree with everything in the bill, especially the passage which allows the armament of teachers. He addressed this during the conference by saying:
I still think law enforcement officers should be the ones who protect our schools. I've heard all the arguments for teachers to be armed and, while this bill would significantly change on this topic, I'm still not persuaded. I'm glad, however, the plan is not mandatory, which means it be up to local elected officials.
Tony Montalto, father of one of the Parkland shooting victims, read a statement following the bill's signage:
When it comes to preventing future acts of horrific school violence, this is beginning of the journey. We have paid a terrible price for this progress. We call on more states, to follow Florida's lead, and create meaningful legislation to make all schools safer.
Though most seem to agree the bill is at least a step in the right direction, the NRA is vehemently opposed to it.
They filed a lawsuit against the state of Florida almost immediately. Their largest qualm with the bill is its restriction on buying guns until a person is 21 years of age. The NRA argues that this violates individuals 2nd and 14th amendments. The second amendment famously upholds an individuals right to bear arms, while the 14th defines what constitutes a U.S. citizen and forbids States (like Florida) from infringing on any constitutionally granted rights. The lawsuit claims that at the age of 18, Americans are considered adults "for almost all purposes and certainly for the purposes of the exercise of fundamental constitutional rights."
After all, if you can enlist in the military at 18, shouldn't you legally be allowed to own a gun?
Though the perfect answer to America's gun violence problem still eludes lawmakers, bills like the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act are a definite improvement on what America has typically done after a mass-shooting: nothing. Perhaps with forward steps like this one, we may find ourselves in a much safer world before long.