Invests More Than $400 Million in School Safety and Mental Health
Following a meeting with the families of victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Governor Rick Scott today signed SB 7026, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act. This legislation makes significant reforms to make Florida schools safer, while keeping firearms out of the hands of mentally ill and dangerous individuals. To view the Governor’s major action plan, which was announced on February 23rd, click HERE.
Governor Scott’s full remarks as prepared for delivery upon the signing of SB 7026 are available HERE.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act includes the following provisions:
Keeping Guns Away from Dangerous and Violent Individuals
- Creates “Risk Protection Orders,” which allows a court to prohibit a violent or mentally ill individual from purchasing or possessing a firearm or any other weapon. If a law enforcement officer believes that a person poses a danger to themselves or others by possessing a firearm, they can petition a court to have the individual immediately surrender the firearm and prohibit them from possessing or purchasing firearms;
- Allows law enforcement to seize firearms when a person has been detained under the “Baker Act.” Also prohibits a person who has been “adjudicated mentally defective” or who has been “committed to a mental institution” from owning or possessing a firearm;
- Requires all individuals purchasing firearms to be 21-years-old or older. Exceptions are included for the purchase of rifles and shotguns by law enforcement officers, correctional officers, active duty military members and all members of the Florida National Guard and United States Reserve Forces. Also, licensed firearm dealers are prohibited from selling or transferring any firearm to a person younger than 21 years of age;
- Establishes enhanced criminal penalties for individuals who make threats to schools, such as social media threats of shootings or bombings;
- Bans sale or possession of bump stocks; and
- Creates a three-day waiting period for all firearms sales. This does not apply to law enforcement officers, correctional officers, active duty military members or members of the Florida National Guard or United States Reserve Forces who are purchasing a rifle or shotgun. The waiting period does not apply to the purchase of a rifle or shotgun for those who have completed a hunter safety course and possess a hunter safety identification card, or anyone who is exempt from the hunter safety course requirements and holds a valid Florida hunting license.
$400 Million Investment to Keep Students Safe & Enhance Mental Health Treatment
- Provides $162 million for safe-school officers and requires a safe-school officer at each school in the state. Safe-school officers must be sworn law enforcement officers;
- Creates the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program under the purview of locally-elected sheriff’s offices. Participation in this program is 100 percent voluntary and optional and does not allow classroom teachers to carry firearms with exceptions made for those involved in Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC), current or retired armed service members and current or retired law enforcement officers. Participation in the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program must be agreed upon by the locally elected school board members and the local sheriff’s office. Each member of school personnel must complete 132 hours of comprehensive firearm safety and proficiency training to be eligible for participation in the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program;
- Requires mandatory active shooter training in schools every semester. Students, district school safety specialists, threat assessment teams, faculty, staff and designated first responders must participate in these drills;
- Provides $99 million to address specific school safety needs within each school district. This includes school hardening measures such as metal detectors, bulletproof glass, steel doors and upgraded locks. The Florida Department of Education (DOE) will establish the Office of Safe Schools and will work in consultation with sheriffs and police chiefs to approve school safety plans and provide school hardening grants to school districts;
- Increases the sharing of information between sheriff’s offices, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and any community behavioral health providers to better coordinate services and provide prevention or intervention strategies. In addition to the legislation, the Governor will also direct DCF Secretary Mike Carroll to establish a process between DCF and each sheriff’s office in Florida to better collaborate and coordinate services for those most in need;
- Establishes a new, anonymous K-12 “FortifyFL” suspicious activity reporting tool, which would allow students and members of the community to anonymously report dangerous threats through a mobile app;
- Provides $75 million for dedicated mental health counselors to provide direct counseling services to students and youth mental health assistance training. Every student in Florida will have access to a mental health counselor;
- Requires every school in Florida to have a threat assessment team with expertise in mental health counseling, academic instruction, law enforcement and school administration to meet monthly to review any potential threats to students and staff at the school;
- Requires crisis intervention training for all school resource officers;
- Establishes the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission to investigate system failures in the Parkland school shooting and prior mass violence incidents and develop recommendations for system improvements; and
- Provides $28 million to expand mental health service teams statewide to serve youth and young adults with early or serious mental illness by providing counseling, crisis management and other critical mental health services.
To view the transmittal letters, click HERE.