Following is a summary of the special Senate session held on March 3, 2018 to discuss the school safety bill (aka 7026). The information was tweeted by @lmower3, Times Tallahassee Bureau and compiled/edited by Anne Hartley. More information can be found here.
Update on HB7026: the final vote is Monday. The marshal plan to deputize some teachers remains in the bill. Some excerpts from today’s session:
Sen. Montford, a former school principal, asking about arming teachers proposal: “If a school district opts not to participate … there’s no one who can override that decision, correct?”
Sen. Galvano: “Correct.”
Sen. Torres (former NYC transit police detective) is asking Galvano: Will these teachers be supplied with bulletproof vests? Would those vests stop an AR-15? Should teachers be given shields, like SWAT uses?
Galvano: doesn’t know the answers, but says the line of questioning is important.
Sen. Farmer: “If the sheriff were to authorize the marshal (teacher) to carry an assault weapon, would that be allowed?”
Sen. Galvano: “That would be left to the sheriff’s department.”
Galvano: said: “if you’re asking me whether this closes what some refer to the ‘gun show loophole,’ the answer would be ‘no.'”
Sen. Tom Lee: “Is the marshal program (which allows teachers to carry guns) still optional?”
Sen. Galvano: “Yes.”
Galvano’s bill would create an Office of Safe Schools to have a “state eye” watching the so-called marshal program, he says.
(It’s called the marshal program because the teachers would be partially deputized by local sheriffs.)
To clear up some confusion on the ‘marshal program,’ the bill says that teachers in the program:
- Would have “no authority to act in any law enforcement capacity” except to engage an active shooter.
- Would not be given arrest powers.
- Would need 132 hours of training.
Sen. Rodriguez questioned a major loophole in the bill: It raises the age of rifle purchases to 21, but only at licensed gun dealers. It doesn’t apply to private sales.
Sen. Rodriguez also asked why an assault weapon ban isn’t in the bill:
Galvano: “I did not want to include, at this point, a complete ban on the purchase of firearms.”
Sen. Rodriguez questioned a narrow – but critical – portion of the ‘marshal program’: It allows teacher only to engage “active assailant incidents.” But what does that mean? In the Parkland Shooting, one student was misidentified as the shooter. Sen. Rodriguez asked: What if a teacher had shot him? There would be questions of, “What authority did they (the teacher) have, and was it reasonable, to take action against a misidentified student?”
Galvano: Sheriffs would be responsible for training teachers when/how to respond to ‘active assailant incidents.’
Galvano agrees with Sen Powell that there should be some way to review the effectiveness of the marshal program. There is nothing in the bill right now that does that.
Sen. Book and Sen. Powell asked about “risk protection orders.”
The bill creates a way for police to petition a judge to have someone’s guns and ammo taken away if the person is a “significant danger” to themselves or others.
5 other states have similar programs. But Galvano’s version has a significant difference: Only police can petition. In other states, family members can petition the judge. If a judge approves temporarily taking away the person’s guns, a hearing would be held 14 days later for both sides (police and the person) to debate extending the order.
Sen. Montford, former school principal, offers amendment that would allow school districts to spend money for the ‘marshal’ program on school cops (aka ‘school resource officers’). Galvano is against it. Amendment fails.
Sen. Gibson’s amendment fixes the loophole on ‘risk protection orders,’ allowing family to petition the judge. (This is how other states do it.) Galvano said family should call police on the person, then police alone could file the petition. “We should not take families out of the equation to help their own loved one,” Gibson says. Amendment fails.
Sen. Braynon proposes 2-year moratorium on the sale of AR-15 rifles, which was used in the Parkland Shooting. He said the time would be used to study whether the guns should be sold in Florida. Sen. Farmer said it’s a “very fair compromise” to an outright assault weapons ban. FDLE would be responsible for studying the rifles during the 2-year moratorium on AR-15 sales. Would not apply to other rifles. Galvano: “I’m going to ask we oppose this amendment. I think it has some legal issues” targeting just one gun manufacturer. “I think the study is a good idea, but I ask that we vote down this amendment.” The amendment was adopted briefly, then voted down in a challenge.
Sen. Rodriguez’ amendment would create a “firearms registry” held by FDLE (state police).
Next amendment: a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines sponsored by Sen. Stewart.
Sen. Farmer: “The root common denominator of all mass shootings is, in fact, the instrument used.” Assault rifles are used for killing “large numbers of human beings.” “They may, by some, be used for sport, but that is not their intended use. … I don’t see a valid sporting use of an AR-15 for hunting deer or duck.” The argument that even if we enact this, people are going to get guns anyway? So let’s get rid of speeding laws, because people speed. … We don’t allow our criminals to define our criminal code, or our legal code.”
Sen. Thurston: “We are here to make a difference, to do something about it. … The argument that it’s unconstitutional, Maryland is doing it.” “Let’s give the students from Douglas their number one request: Ban assault weapons.”
Sen. Rouson, responding to Sen. Simmons comment that King George and Hitler took weapons (Simmons supports HB7026). Sen. Rouson said: “I didn’t know King George. I didn’t know the founders. We’re in a different time.” “What I do know is that I can do something about weapons of mass killings.”
Sen. Rodriguez also responded to Simmons’ post-apocalyptic reasons for keeping these guns: “It’s frightening, and it’s really hard to understand.”
Sen. Stargel: “Are we going to ban fertilizer, which was used in the Oklahoma City bombing? Are we going to ban pressure cookers, used in the Boston bombing? It’s not the weapon, it’s the evil within.” “Thoughts and prayers” are the only thing stopping this evil. “That’s something I’m going to continue to do in my comprehensive plan.”
Sen. Powell responded: “If you tell me the purpose of fertilizer is to create bombs, and fertilizer doesn’t serve any other purpose, then I will say we should ban fertilizer.”
Sen. Stewart’s amendment failed (vote in photo; Passidomo voted no).
Sen. Taddeo’s amendment to catch people who fail background checks failed.
Sen. Taddeo proposed removing the state law that prohibits cities and counties from imposing their own gun restriction (like Coral Gables). Failed.
Sen. Rouson proposed closing under-21 loophole, making it illegal to give/sell a weapon to someone under 21. Failed.
School marshal plan amendments:
Sen. Brayson’s amendment would have removed the school marshal plan from the bill. Black lawmakers have huge reservations about having armed teachers in classrooms. Failed.
Sen. Rodriguez: “I do not think the response to gun violence in our schools is to put more guns in our schools.”
Sen. Farmer: “Our governor has said, he doesn’t want this. … It’s this piece that offends the most amount of people, and causes people the most concern.”
Sen. Taddeo mentioned Scot Peterson, the school cop who was at Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS, who “froze.” “Now we’re expecting teachers, whose career is not in law enforcement, to behave above and beyond someone whose career is in law enforcement.”
Galvano says that it’s purely voluntary for teachers, and they would receive more hands-on gun training than Florida requires of police. (Which is true in the number of hours of training.) “We’re seeking to transform school security in Florida.”
Sen. Braynon gave eloquent closing remarks on his amendment to remove the marshal program from this bill. “All I ask is for time. This is an important piece of legislation that we put together in a week.” But marshal program “splits us down the middle.” Braynon conceded that it’s not the right time for an assault-weapon ban. This is the time to come together. On the other end, this is too divisive.” Amendment failed.
Sen. Stewart had another amendment that would ban assault rifles sales for two years. (The earlier one would have banned only AR-15 or two years.) Failed.
Sen. Farmer proposed to ban high-capacity magazines. Would limit magazines to 10 rounds or fewer. Galvano opposed. Failed.
Sen. Bracy’s amendment would require 12 hours of diversity training for teachers in marshal program. With Galvano’s support, it passes unanimously.
Sen. Tom Lee said the marshal plan is for “bumper stickers” in the fall and is pointless. “The marshal plan you can already do,” he says. He proposed a new bill that would take out both the marshal plan AND all the gun control legislation. “It’s put up or shut up time. … As soon as we have this marshal program, someone’s going to drive their pickup into the lunch room or something.” Failed.
Only one amendment passed. The final vote is Monday.
It’s not too late to contact your Senators! Find their information here.