Florida Gov. Rick Scott unveiled a $5oo million proposal to increase school safety Friday. Most of the money ($450 million) will go toward putting a law enforcement officer in every school. Some will go to improving physical security and some to new mental health initiatives. Gov. Scott also announced the age to buy a firearm would be raised to 21 under his plan. The Governor’s speech was published by the Tampa-Bay Times. Here’s a portion of what he said:
My message to them has been very simple – you are not alone. Change is coming… and it will come fast…
I want to create a new program in Florida – I call it the Violent Threat Restraining Order. This concept is very simple, and very common sense in my view.
This will allow a court to prohibit a violent or mentally ill person from purchasing or possessing a firearm or any other weapon when either a family member, community welfare expert or law enforcement officer files a sworn request, and presents evidence to the court of a threat of violence involving firearms or other weapons. There would be speedy due process for the accused and any fraudulent or false statements would face criminal penalties…
Also, we will require all individuals purchasing firearms to be 21 or older. Let me repeat – we will require all individuals purchasing firearms to be 21 or older.
There will be exceptions for active duty and reserve military and spouses, National Guard members, and law enforcement.
Next, we will prohibit a person from possessing or purchasing a firearm if they are subject to an injunction for protection against stalking, cyberstalking, dating violence, repeat violence, sexual violence, or domestic violence.
Those are the big legal changes. The other part of his proposal is the addition of law enforcement at every school:
Today, I am calling for a mandatory law enforcement officer in every public school. These law enforcement officers must either be sworn sheriff’s deputies or police officers and be present during all hours students are on campus.
The size of the campus should be a factor in determining staffing levels by the county sheriff’s office, and I am proposing at least one law enforcement officer for every 1,000 students. This must be implemented by the start of the 2018 school year.
We will also provide sheriff’s departments the authority to train additional school personnel or reserve law enforcement officers to protect students if requested by the local school board.
Not mentioned by the Governor during his speech was the big news yesterday about the School Resource Officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school who waited outside and did nothing during the attack. That’s obviously going to give some people pause at spending $450 million on more officers. Though it wasn’t part of the speech itself, Gov. Scott was asked about it in the Q&A that followed.
“It’s very disappointing what that law enforcement officer—what he did. He didn’t do his job,” Scott said. He continued, “I appreciate what law enforcement does. I see them quite a bit and I know their job is to protect us. I believe that law enforcement will protect us and I want to put my resources…as governor of the state I’m going to put my resources in making sure law enforcement has the tools to keep us safe.”
Scott is seeking a kind of middle-ground here between Trump’s position (allowing armed teachers) and the student activists who want all semi-autos banned. The NRA will probably support the spending on mental health and armed officers at schools and will probably dislike the change in the purchase age. And of course, many on the left will ridicule all of this as a half-measure when what they really want it outright banning and confiscation of all guns.
I guess the question is whether there is enough middle ground left on this issue for Gov. Scott’s proposal to find some support. That’s clearly what he’s going for, but by trying to find middle ground, he may have created a plan that pleases no one.