What to Know
- Bill would raise the minimum age to buy rifles from 18 to 21 and creates a three-day waiting period for all gun purchases
- Bill would create program that allows teachers with law enforcement training and deputized by sheriff's office to carry concealed weapons
Nearly two weeks after a shooting at a high school killed 17 people, the Florida Legislature is debating a school safety bill.
A House committee approved a bill Tuesday that would raise the minimum age to buy rifles from 18 to 21 and creates a three-day waiting period for all gun purchases. The bill would also create a program that allows teachers who receive law enforcement training and are deputized by the local sheriff's office to carry concealed weapons in the classroom if also approved by the school district.
The 23-6 vote Tuesday followed more than four hours of emotional discussion, including from parents of some of the 17 killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine's Day.
Democratic Rep. Jared Moskowitz, a former Parkland vice mayor, said he didn't like the bill, but still voted for it. He explained, "It doesn't go far enough, and now it goes too far in other areas. But the NRA opposes it and I will not vote with the NRA."
Unlike Monday, when hundreds of sometimes rowdy protesters jammed a Senate meeting to consider a similar bill, Tuesday's proceedings were more orderly. But still, several speakers spoke in favor of the assault weapons ban, including Parkland resident Amber Hersh.
"Our children lost a friend. Our friend lost a daughter. This is your opportunity. The world is watching," she told the committee.
An amendment to ban assault weapons was rejected on an 18-11 vote.
A Senate committee was going to take up a similar bill later in the day.
As the bill moves through the Legislature, the court case of Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old accused of killing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, is underway.
A judge has refused to step aside from the case as requested by his lawyers. Court records show Broward County Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer denied the request Monday.
Cruz's lawyers claimed Scherer has made rulings and comments that indicate favoritism for prosecutors. They said in court papers that Cruz can't get a fair trial, but Scherer disagreed.
Cruz is charged with 17 counts of murder in the Valentine's Day shooting.
A Tuesday morning hearing in the criminal case against Cruz was canceled after lawyers reached an agreement for prosecutors to get hair samples, fingerprints, DNA and photographs of him.
Students are scheduled to return to school Wednesday, for the first time since the Feb. 14 shooting.