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Florida senators pass gun restrictions

  • ADDS DATE - Ryan Petty, center, father of Alaina Petty, reads a prepared statement, Monday, March 5, 2018, surrounded by other parents of the victims of the fatal Valentine's Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Fla. The parents called on the state’s Legislature to pass a bill they believe will improve school security. (Jose A. Iglesias/Miami Herald via AP) Jose A. Iglesias

  • Florida Sen. Lauren Book, right, embraces Sen. Bill Galvano after Galvano's bill, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Student Safety Act, passed 20-18 at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla., Monday, March 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser) Mark Wallheiser

  • Florida Sen. Lauren Book makes an impassioned plea for passage of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Student Safety Act during the session at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla., Monday March 5, 2018. The Florida Senate narrowly passed a bill Monday as a response to the Parkland school shootings that would create new restrictions on rifle sales and allow some teachers to carry guns in schools. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser) Mark Wallheiser

  • Florida Sen. Rene Garcia, right, embraces Sen. Bill Galvano after Galvano's bill, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Student Safety Act, passed 20-18 at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla., Monday, March 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser) Mark Wallheiser

  • Florida Sens., from left, Greg Steube, David Simmons, Bill Galvano and Randolph Bracy listen as Sen. Lauren Book makes an impassioned plea for passage of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Student Safety Act during the session at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla., Monday March 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser) Mark Wallheiser

  • Bill sponsor, Florida Sen. Bill Galvano, left, listens as Sen. Victor M. Torres Jr. speaks against the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Student Safety Act during Senate debate at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla., Monday, March 5, 2018. The Florida Senate narrowly passed a bill Monday as a response to the Parkland school shootings that would create new restrictions on rifle sales and allow some teachers to carry guns in schools. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser) Mark Wallheiser

  • Florida Sen. Lauren Book wipes her eyes as she makes an impassioned plea for passage of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Student Safety Act during the session at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla., Monday, March 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser) Mark Wallheiser

  • Florida Rep. Jared Even Moskowitz, right, pulls in Sen. Oscar Braynon, left, Rep. Bobby DuBose, and Sen. Gary Farmer for a private room negotiation in the Senate chamber prior to debate on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Student Safety Act at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla., Monday, March 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser) Mark Wallheiser

  • Florida Senate President Joe Negron, left, and incoming Senate President Bill Galvano talk during debate on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Student Safety Act during the session at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla., Monday, March 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser) Mark Wallheiser

  • Fred Guttenberg, father of Jaime Guttenberg, holds a picture of his daughter, Monday, as he listens to questions from the media in front of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Fla. AP PHOTO

  • Florida Sens. David Simmons, left, talks with Debbie Mayfield in the Senate Chambers at the Florida Capital before the start of a legislature session in Tallahassee, Fla., Monday, March 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser) Mark Wallheiser



Associated Press
Tuesday, March 06, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — It doesn’t include the assault weapons ban that students who survived Florida’s deadly school shooting demanded of lawmakers, but the state’s Senate narrowly passed a bill that would create new restrictions on rifle sales and allow some teachers to carry guns in schools.

Meanwhile, prosecutors and lawyers for the victims are going to court to handle the aftermath of the Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the court system.

Grand jurors are expected to begin hearing evidence on today against Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old former student who authorities say killed 17 people and injured more than a dozen others when he fired an AR-15 assault-style rifle inside the school.

And grievously injured student Anthony Borges, 15, and his family filed a letter of intent to sue the Broward Sheriff’s Office and school resource officer as well as the school system and Marjory Stoneman Douglas principal to help recover the costs of his recovery. Attorney Alex Arreaza said in the Monday letter that Borges still can’t walk and has “a great deal of difficulty performing rudimentary tasks for himself.”

The 20-18 Senate vote Monday evening followed three hours of often emotional debate. Support and opposition crossed party lines, and it was clear many of those who voted for the bill weren’t entirely happy with it. The bill now goes to the House, which has a similar bill awaiting consideration by the full chamber.

“Do I think this bill goes far enough? No! No, I don’t!” said Democratic Sen. Lauren Book, who tearfully described visiting the school after the shooting.

Book also wanted a ban on assault-style rifles, like many of the students who traveled to the state Capitol, who asked lawmakers to do that and more to stop future mass shootings. But Book said she couldn’t let the 60-day legislative session end Friday without doing something.

“My community was rocked. 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,” she said. “This is the first step in saying never again.”

Earlier Monday, families of the 17 people who died called on the state’s Legislature to pass a bill they believe will improve school security.

Reading a statement outside Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, Ryan Petty implored legislators to pass Gov. Rick Scott’s proposal to add armed security guards, keep guns away from the mentally ill and improve mental health programs for at-risk teens. Scott also opposes arming teachers.

“We must be the last families to lose loved ones in a mass shooting at a school. This time must be different and we demand action,” said Petty, reading from the group statement.

Petty’s 14-year-old daughter, Alaina, was killed in the Feb. 14 shooting, along with 13 schoolmates and three staff members.

If just one more senator voted no, the bill would have died. Democrats didn’t like the idea of letting teachers carry guns, even if the bill was amended to water down that proposed program. And many pro-gun rights Republicans didn’t like the idea of raising the minimum age to buy rifles from 18 to 21 and to create a waiting period on sales of the weapons.

The Senate amended its bill to limit which teachers could volunteer to go through law enforcement training and carry guns in schools. Any teacher who does nothing but work in a classroom would not be eligible, but teachers who perform other duties, such as serving as a coach, and other school employees could still participate. Other exceptions would be made for teachers who are current or former law enforcement officers, members of the military or who teach in a Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps program.


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