PARKLAND, FLA. (Reuters) – Florida’s Republican-controlled Senate approved sweeping reforms to the state’s gun law on Monday that raise the minimum purchase age and add a three-day waiting period in response to the deadliest high school shooting in US history last month.
Senators approved the legislation after an amendment removed a provision to arm most teachers. That was designed in part to increase support from many parents, law enforcement officials and lawmakers in both parties – including Republican Governor Rick Scott – who objected to the idea.
The exclusion was adopted by voice vote as part of a package of legislation the Senate passed a short time later, 20-18, to raise the minimum legal age for buying all guns in Florida to 21 and impose a three-day waiting period for any gun purchase.
The bill now moves to Florida’s Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
The minimum age for handguns nationally is already 21. However, a person can be as young as 18 to buy a rifle in Florida, with no waiting period.
The legislation comes about a month after a gunman walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, with a semi-automatic AR-15-style assault rifle and opened fire, killing 17 students and staff members. The man accused of the massacre was 18 when he legally purchased the rifle he used, authorities said.
The bill passed by the Senate represents a break with the National Rifle Association (NRA) gun rights lobby, which has resisted proposals to raise age limits or impose new waiting limits.
Under the amended Senate bill, classroom teachers would be excluded from carrying guns to work unless they were part of the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps programme or members of the US military or former police officers. Other school personnel would be eligible to participate.
A spokeswoman for the governor said Mr Scott, who was endorsed by the NRA and received its highest rating for supporting gun rights, would review the bill in its final form before deciding whether to support or oppose it.