By State Representative, Leon D. Young
Let me begin this week’s article by expressing my sincere admiration for the remarkable students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and their extraordinary student activism. In the aftermath of that senseless mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, these young, articulate students were determined to have their voices heard – and have succeeded in pressing their state, and perhaps the nation, to adopt common-sense gun control legislation.
Incredibly, three weeks after this horrific event, the Florida Legislature passed a gun control bill that was, in many respects, a major victory for the new activists of Marjory Stoneman. The bill was signed subsequently into law in direct defiance of the National Rifle Association (NRA); and marks the first successful gun control measure in Florida in more than 20 years.
Here’s a look at the provisions of Florida’s new gun control bill:
•Raises the minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21
• Creates a 3-day waiting period for prospective gun buyers, or until a background check is completed, whichever is longer
• Bans the sale or possession of bump fire stocks
• Gives law enforcement greater power to seize weapons ammo from mentally unfit
• Provides additional funding for armed school resource officers
• Coach Arron Feis guardian program, which arms some teachers
We all remember that following this Florida school massacre, Trump publicly called for raising the age limit to purchase rifles and backed 2013 legislation for near-universal background checks. However, when it came time to put forth his own proposals, it became abundantly clear that Trump had abandoned his promise to work for common-sense gun control measures, which the National Rifle Association has opposed.
Instead, Trump’s White House countered by offering these mealy-mouthed proposals on gun and school safety:
• No plan to increase age limit
• Provides qualified school personnel with firearm training
• Supports vets/retired law enforcement to work in schools
• Urges states to remove guns from threatening individuals
• Creates a task force to study age restrictions
• Proposes expansion, reform of mental health programs
• Supports the Cornyn-Murphy fix NICs’ bill
The NRA wasted no time in acting against Florida’s new gun control law. The powerful gun lobby announced plans to sue the state contending that the new law violates the Second and 14th Amendments of the US Constitution. The Second Amendment is the right to bear arms, and the 14th Amendment guarantees equal protection under the law.
Not surprisingly, the White House gun proposals have been warmly received in NRA circles. In fact, they completely mirror what the gun lobby is already willing to support. After all of Trump’s tough talk about taking on the NRA, if need be, the president folded like a cheap suit and is completely cow tied to this special interest leviathan.
At the end of the day, neither the federal nor Florida approaches address the real culprits in this mass shooting hysteria that grips this nation: the availability of assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines. But at least, Florida’s law, far from perfect, did try to address some of the concerns raised by the Marjory Stoneman students.
Furthermore, taking steps to ensure the safety of our children, and the public at large, should never be a political issue. The need to enact common-sense gun control measures is simply the right thing to do, and America continues to fail in its attempts at protecting its citizenry.