Florida Governor Rick Scott announced on Friday that he wants to raise the age limit in the state for buying a firearm to the age of 21, just one week after a 19-year-old shot allegedly 17 people at a high school in the state.
Scott also said Florida would completely ban bump stocks, which dramatically increase semi-automatic weapons’ potential rate of fire, and prohibit the mentally ill from accessing weapons.
“We will require all individuals purchasing firearms to be 21 or older,” Scott said Friday. “There will be exceptions for active duty, reserved military and spouses, national guard members and law enforcement.”
Scott’s announcement was part of his comprehensive plan to address school safety in the wake of last week’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The plan, which he said he wanted to implement within the next two weeks, covers gun laws, school safety, and mental health. He said he had spent the week meeting with survivors of the shooting, including the students who came to Tallahassee to lobby for gun control measures. (While the students were there, the Florida House declined to take up legislation to ban assault rifles.)
“This is a time when I believe we must come together and even cross party lines,” said Scott. ” I want to encourage people to keep listening to each other.”
Noting that Nikolas Cruz, who allegedly shot 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, had been flagged by law enforcement but was still able to buy guns, Scott said he wanted to make it “virtually” impossible for anyone who is a danger to themselves or others to have access to a gun. He said the state would create a program called the “violent threat restraining order,” which would prohibit a mentally ill person from buying a weapon when law enforcement or a family member provides evidence to the court of a threat of violence involving any weapons. He also said he wants the state to invest a half billion dollars in school safety and mental health initiatives, even if it requires foregoing tax cuts.
“Government does not have to be slow or lethargic,” he said. “When it comes to protecting our kids we need to be swift and decisive.”
Scott, who is strongly considering a run for Senate, had received criticism in the wake of the shooting after he declined to initially address gun control measures, and failed to appear at the Wednesday’s CNN town hall with survivors of the shooting. He is a member of the National Rifle Association, who had given him an A+ rating for his pro-gun stances, and noted in in 2014 that he had signed “more pro-gun bills into law — in one term — than any other Governor in Florida history.”
The NRA did not immediately respond to request for comment. Scott reaffirmed his membership in the NRA on Friday, along with his support for the Second Amendment.