Florida takes small step towards gun control


Florida’s Republican-controlled Senate has taken tentative steps towards gun control following the recent high school massacre in the state.

Lawmakers backed – by 20 votes to 18 – a three-day waiting period for any gun purchase and the raising of the legal purchase age to 21.

A person in Florida already has to be 21 to buy a handgun but that restriction, if the laws are also accepted by the state’s House of Representatives, would extend to other guns such as rifles.

The news comes just weeks after 14 students and three staff were shot dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

The man charged with their deaths, Nikolas Cruz, was 19 and therefore not breaking the law when he bought the semiautomatic AR-15 assault rifle he allegedly later used to kill them.

The powerful National Rifle Association (NRA) has opposed any raising of age limits or new waiting times.

A third matter considered by the Florida Senate was a plan, backed in part by Donald Trump, to arm teachers.

The lawmakers voted not to arm teachers, unless they are part of the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps programme, members of the military or former police officers.

Other school personnel would be able to participate, however.

Florida’s Republican Governor Rick Scott will also have to give the laws the go-ahead, and he had made clear he was opposed to arming teachers.

According to a spokeswoman for Mr Scott, he also “still has concerns” about the three-day waiting period, something he has previously opposed.

The Senate bill also provides nearly $400m to pay for school safety and mental health initiatives, along with new powers for police to take guns from those involuntarily committed or deemed a danger to themselves.

Democrats said the measures were not sufficient.

Senator Lauren Book said: “Do I think this bill goes far enough? No, no, I don’t.”

Talking about the Parkland shooting, she said: “My school children were murdered in their classrooms.

“I cannot live with a choice to put party politics above an opportunity to get something done that inches us closer to the place I believe we should be as a state.

“This is the first step in saying never again.”