For my money the Florida legislature has fallen victim to emotional pressures and muscle applied by Speaker Richard Corcoran, Governor Rick Scott and Senate President Joe Negron as they consider, and likely have passed by now, a bad school safety bill. Oh, it’s not all bad, but it could certainly be better.
As Speaker Richard Corcoran invited dissenting House members to meet with grieving Parkland family members and threatened their appropriations and other bills, not to mention future committee assignments and legislation, the pressure was on to swallow the bill hook, line and sinker as presented by the Senate after it passed the measure on Monday. The orders were to add no amendments and pass this thing so it could be done by Friday’s end of session. It was pressure pure and simple and it asked members to check their own good judgment in favor of what the Speaker, Senate President and apparently the Governor wanted.
In essence, by tactics such as these, we lost representative government by our elected officials who caved to the pressure and, as it appears at this writing, allowed 3 alleged leaders, the teachers’ unions and grieving parents and students to direct with emotion what should have been a seriously contemplated and debated measure.
The thing is there should have been zero pressure because of the timing of the tragic shooting at Douglas High School in Broward County. There were only two and half weeks of the legislative session left when the shooting occurred. The state and the country started clamoring for government to do something almost immediately. It has dominated our conversation since that tragic day. Sadly, little of the conversation has focused on actually limiting the death and injury from such an incident and, as always, gun control became the major issue.
While this bill does take steps in the right direction, it has the limitation of imposing gun control measures for the first time in the 22 years that Republicans have controlled the legislature. Upon the governor’s signature the minimum age to buy a firearm will be raised to 21 and a three day waiting period will be imposed on all store generated firearms sales. While relatively minor as gun control measures go, these certainly do nothing to limit access for any active shooter, no matter the shooter’s age. They are feel good measures at best.
The School Marshal program, similar to the plan announced by Sheriff Wayne Ivey and Brevard Schools, has been gutted in another appeasement to grieving parents, scared high schoolers and teachers unions who fear guns in teachers’ hands. The original bill called for all teachers who choose to be armed to be screened, have the 132+ hours of training and become deputized by the state’s Sheriff’s Departments as Special Marshals. The bill was amended to take teachers out unless they also had other duties at the school beyond teaching. Apparently multi-taskers’ lives matter and dedicated teachers’ lives don’t. The legislature added, as capitulation to the Democrats push, additional diversity training for said marshals. There is NO diversity when an active shooter is acting out. You are the shooter or you are a potential victim. No diversity classification matters at all at that moment.
Good provisions include hardening our schools with additional funding for security measures, more funding for mental health evaluation and services and the ability of law enforcement to obtain court orders to confiscate weapons from identified likely school shooters until they are adjudged to not be a threat. But, a statewide bureaucracy has been included to study the Parkland shooting and make recommendations to legislators. It is unnecessary. The FDLE is looking at the law enforcement response; the House and Senate are also conducting their own investigations with subpoenas already issued to other agencies who dealt with the Parkland shooter. How many investigations do they need and how much money do they have to waste?
The state would be better served by our elected representatives if they decline to pass this bill and set it for full debate and deliberation in a Special Session devoted to doing this right as opposed to doing it fast. Extract the emotion and the political pressure and get this one right. Lives depend on it!