by Brandon Cohen ’20
After the tragic shooting that occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, a rising call has erupted for not just tighter gun-control laws in Florida but for the entire country. Many students are participating in marches, attending town halls, and making their voices heard in the media to end gun violence. Calls for gun restrictions happen after each highly publicized mass shooting but actual changes to existing laws rarely happen. Will this time be different?
Laws Passed by Florida State Legislature:
The Florida GOP-controlled state legislature just approved a bill that includes a three-day waiting for purchases on long guns; raising the minimum age on gun sales to 21; banning the sale of bump stock attachments that enable rifles to rapid fire; and spending at least $450 million on mental health and “hardening” schools with metal detectors, bulletproof glass, and other enhanced security measures. In addition, the law calls for law enforcement officer in every school and at least one officer for every 1,000 students and mandatory active-shooter training in public schools. The legislation also includes millions of dollars to improve school security and train and arm school employees.. However, the Florida Senate amended the House’s proposal for this program for schools arming teachers. Instead, school officials will have the opportunity to be trained to carry a firearm. However, the NRA recently sued Florida because of their new gun legislation. The suit focuses on the part of the law that raises the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21 from 18.
Laws Proposed by Maryland Governor
Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland recently pledged a $125 million budget to make Maryland schools safer from violence like school shootings. In addition, Hogan also added another $50 million to annually pay for school resource officers, counselors and technology. He also plans to broaden the authority of the Maryland Center of School Safety, and to increase the center’s budget to hire analysts, expand the center’s presence statewide, and to hire social media trackers to better bring intelligence to state and local law enforcement.
Solutions Proposed by Federal Government:
President Trump considered increasing the minimum age to 21 for owning certain firearms, but backed away from the idea because adding a federal background checks system when purchasing a firearm will soon become part of the bill. In the wake of the Florida attack, he also has promised to ban bump stocks the device used in the Las Vegas shooting that fully automates an assault rifle. Trump recently tweeted that he also considers “giving concealed guns to gun adept teachers with military or special training experience, and can act as a deterrent for any school shooters.” Despite Trump’s call to action, Congress has announced no concrete plans on gun legislation.