In Tallahassee, Florida lawmakers grapple with addressing mass shootings in the state’s schools.
On Monday, a state Senate committee voted down gun control amendments to a sweeping school safety bill. Republicans on the committee rejected an assault weapons ban and left in place a provision that would allow teachers to carry firearms on campus, the Sun Sentinel reported.
Democrats’ effort to attach an assault rifle ban to the bill failed by a 7-6 vote.
The legislation, which passes through another committee on Tuesday, would ban firearm sales to anyone younger than 21 and require a 3-day waiting period for purchases, requirements currently in place for handguns only.
Law enforcement officers and members of the military would be exempted from the age requirements.
The sale of bump stocks, accessories that enable semi-automatic rifles to emulate full automatic firing speed, would also be banned under the bill.
The proposed legislation would secure classrooms by instituting the Florida Sheriff’s Marshal Program, under which school faculty would be allowed to carry firearms on campus.
The program would be voluntary. Participants would be required to pass a background check and receive 132 hours of training, as well as a psychological exam and drug screening.
School superintendents and county sheriffs would have the authority to keep anyone from participating in the program for any reason.
The push to allow teachers to carry guns falls in line with the position of many Republicans–including President Trump–who argue that school staff can defend students when a crisis breaks out and before police arrive on the scene.
At this month’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, which left 17 dead, four deputies with the Broward County Sheriff’s office stood outside the school as the rampage went on inside.
According to reports, the deputies were ordered to stand down because they did not have body cameras on them.
Among the dead was Aaron Feis, a football coach and campus security guard who used his body as a shield for students because he was unarmed.
Some Florida Democrats, like State Sen. Oscar Braynon, opposed the measure to arm teachers on racial grounds.
“It bothers me to think as a father of two young boys to tell them to not be aggressive to your teacher,” Braynon said. “Please don’t make it dangerous for children who look like my children to go to school.”
The removal of the assault weapons ban amendment triggered emotional protests from gun control advocates at the capitol, including many students from South Florida.
The House is considering its own legislation on Tuesday. The House and Senate will likely hear amendment proposals on Wednesday before holding votes on Thursday.
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