Republican Florida governor bucks NRA to pass sweeping bipartisan gun bill

Rick Scott.
(Image credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) on Friday signed into law a gun access and school safety bill, less than one month after the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The bill had bipartisan support, though the regulations included broke with Scott's longtime status as a favorite of the National Rifle Association.

The law raises the minimum age to purchase a firearm in Florida from 18 to 21, creates a three-day waiting period for background checks, and bans the sale of bump stocks. It also boosts funding for school security measures and mental health care for students, while blocking mentally ill Floridians from owning guns. Most controversially, The New York Times reports, the bill allows school superintendents and sheriffs to arm some school personnel and creates funding for a program to train employees who want to carry a gun on campus — a measure the NRA has long hoped for.

Senate Bill 7026, also called the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, does not ban assault weapons, a change many vocal Parkland students have demanded in recent weeks. It also does not suspend the sale of AR-15 rifles or high-capacity magazines, nor does it change existing background check procedures.

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The NRA, which has given Scott an A-plus rating for his gun policy views, vehemently opposed the bill. On Thursday, the group sent out an "emergency alert" to supporters, urging them to demand a veto from Scott for infringing on gun rights, reports the Sun Sentinel. The Florida Education Association, on the other hand, wanted Scott to veto the bill for entirely different reasons, claiming the program to arm school employees would be potentially more harmful than helpful.

Scott said he signed the legislation because "this is a time for all of us to come together, roll up our sleeves, and get it done."

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