Governor Rick Scott signed Florida Senate Bill 7026 on March 9, introducing new limitations on gun acquisition and implementing the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program. The bill is also known as the “Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act.” Legislators drafted this bill in response to the deadly Parkland high school shooting that took place on February 14.
Within hours of the new bill being signed, the NRA filed a federal lawsuit, according to CBS Miami. The lawsuit focuses on the new age restriction for gun ownership, which requires gun owners to be 21 years old rather than 18 years old. The NRA argues that changing the age restriction infringes upon the Second Amendment rights of Florida residents between the ages of 18 years old and those who are under 21 years old. Chris W. Cox of the NRA says the bill “punishes law-abiding gun owners for the criminal acts of a deranged individual.”
The other portions of the bill are going uncontested by the NRA, which include a three-day waiting period for gun acquisition and banning bump fire stocks, which allow semi-automatic guns to mimic fully automatic guns. The bill also creates new provisions for people with mental illnesses, including the temporary seizure of firearms by police officers or through a court order.
Also, the Orlando Sentinel reports that the new bill outlines protocol for arming teachers on a voluntary basis so long as they do not “exclusively perform classroom duties.” The Guardian Program is named after Coach Aaron Feis, who jumped in front of oncoming gunfire to save students during the Parkland school shooting. Fox News describes the program requirements, which include 144 hours of training for qualified personnel.
Recent polls by NBC News show most adults strongly disagree with arming teachers. However, the New York Times notes that the movement to arm teachers picked up steam across the country after the Sandy Hook tragedy in 2013. Most of the school districts that have programs to arm teachers are smaller and rural, which makes the Florida bill one of the most prominent pieces of legislation to address arming teachers.
In addition, Vice News reported that a “Sentinel Program” is already in place in Polk County, Florida. This program requires 132 hours of training, which certifies teachers to become sheriff deputies and carry concealed weapons. Two colleges, Southeastern University and Webber International University, are participants of the program.