Florida lawmakers struggle with how to respond to shooting
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Stunned by a horrific shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 people dead, the state Legislature is grappling with what to do in the aftermath.
Lawmakers have just three weeks left in their annual 60-day session and normally are trying to wrap up work on a new state budget in the final days.
But the shooting Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland has revived an ongoing legislative debate about how to respond to gun violence.
Democrats want the Legislature to take up gun control bills that have languished again this year, but Republican legislative leaders are talking about boosting mental health programs in Florida’s public schools as well as considering measures that would bolster safety on school campuses.
Gov. Rick Scott has said he plans to talk to legislative leaders in the coming week about what could be done to make it harder for people who are mentally ill to purchase a gun.
Senate and House leaders also have said they are willing to help pay to tear down the three-story building where the shootings happened and place a memorial on the site. It could cost up to $30 million to replace the school building with a new facility in a different location on the campus.
Some GOP legislators wanted to consider a bill to put trained, armed volunteers or school employees inside the state’s public schools.
The Senate Judiciary Committee was scheduled to take up the legislation (SB 1236), but Sen. Greg Steube, the committee chairman, announced late Friday that the measure would not be taken up after all. Steube made his decision after several top senators said they were opposed to considering the bill.
Groups opposed to the bill flooded legislators with phone calls the last two days.