School Safety Act Passes Florida Senate, Moves to House - NBC Chicago
Parkland School Tragedy

Parkland School Tragedy

Continuing coverage of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Shooting

School Safety Act Passes Florida Senate, Moves to House

The Florida House has not yet voted on its version of the bill

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    Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Act

    NBC 6's Steve Litz discusses a bill in the state legislature that is a response to the Parkland school shooting tragedy.

    (Published Tuesday, March 6, 2018)

    The Florida Senate has passed a school safety bill that would place new restrictions on rifle sales, allow some teachers to carry guns in schools and create new school mental health programs.

    The state Senate passed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act with a 20 to 18 vote. The bill is a response to the Parkland school shooting in which 17 people, mostly teenage students, were killed.

    The Senate amended the bill to put limits on which teachers could participate in a proposed program to carry guns in schools.

    “The opportunity to meet with and listen to survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting as well as the families of the victims has had a tremendous impact on each and every Senator and has significantly influenced the development of this important legislation,” Florida Sen. Bill Galvano, a Republican representing the area of Bradenton, said in a statement.

    Legislators debated dozens of amendments to the 100-page bill Saturday before approving the measure for a Monday vote.

    The Republican-controlled Senate rejected Democratic proposals to ban assault rifles and large-capacity magazines. Also rejected was a Democratic proposal to strip language from the bill that would create a program to arm teachers who have gone through law-enforcement training if school districts choose to take part in the so-called marshal plan.

    Nearly three weeks after the shooting, people across the country are still talking about the tragedy and how the victims touched the lives of people far and wide.

    The shooting was mentioned at the Oscars Sunday night, and artists and activists paid tribute to the people killed. Oscars host Jimmy Kimmel, in his remarks about acceptance speeches, said the winners should speak with passion and that they "have an opportunity and a platform to remind millions of people about important things - equal rights and equal treatment. If you want to encourage others to join the amazing students at Parkland at their march on the 24th."

    The Stoneman Douglas students are organizing a March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., on March 24.

    On Saturday evening, the parents and sister of victim Joaquin Oliver received a basketball jersey from Miami Heat player Dwyane Wade.

    Having learned that Oliver was buried in one of his replica jerseys, Wade hastened the processing of a version of the jersey with new colors that is on backorder until July 1 for the general public, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported. He then met with Oliver's parents and sister at Saturday's game, after Wade's mother and sister previously had spent time with the family. Included in the memorial offering was a specially designed pair of sneakers from Wade's footwear line that featured Joaquin's name and the Stoneman Douglas logo.

    But the most focus regarding the shooting and its aftermath came in the Florida Legislature during a rare weekend session that often turned into a debate on gun control and arming teachers.

    Senators were divided on 100-page bill, and not just on party lines. While crafted by Republicans, some GOP senators still opposed it because they don't agree with raising the minimum age to buy a rifle from 18 to 21 or requiring a waiting period to buy the weapons.

    Democrats believe the legislation doesn't go far enough in some ways and too far in others. And while some oppose the bill, others believe it's at least a first step toward gun safety.

    Democrats want to ban weapons such as the AR-15 assault-style rifle, which was used in the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14. Many also oppose arming teachers. The bill also includes provisions to boost school security, establish new mental health programs in schools, and improve communication between schools, law enforcement and state agencies.

    But much of the debate Saturday revolved around gun control and whether people should have a right to own an assault rifle.

    The House has yet to take up its version of the bill.