Florida governor signs gun-safety bill into law

10 March 2018

Weeks after the worst high school gun violence since Columbine, Florida governor Rick Scott signed a far-reaching bill that puts new restrictions on guns.

The law follows three weeks of intense lobbying after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, that left 17 dead and another 17 wounded.

''It's an example to the entire country that government can and has moved fast,'' said Scott, whose state has been ruled for 20 years by gun-friendly Republican lawmakers.

The bill, however, failed to achieve a ban on assault-style weapons sought by survivors, like the AR-15 rifle used by the gunman who opened fire at the school.

The bill, however, raised the minimum age to buy rifles from 18 to 21, and added a three-day waiting period for handgun purchases.

It also created a so-called guardian programme, which would allow some teachers and other school employees to carry guns.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) however, insists, that the measure ''punishes law-abiding gun owners for the criminal acts of a deranged individual.''

It said, the Parkland gunman, ''gave repeated warning signs that were ignored by federal and state officials. If we want to prevent future atrocities, we must look for solutions that keep guns out of the hands of those who are a danger to themselves or others, while protecting the rights of law-abiding Americans,'' Chris W Cox, executive director of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, said in a statement.

According to gun control supporters, the tragedy - the deadliest US high school shooting ever - has given a new impetus to firearms-safety measures pending in at least two dozen states.

"Today should serve as an example to the entire country that government can and must move fast," Scott said in remarks before the signing, surrounded by survivors of the shooting and their families.

According to Scott, who received the NRA's endorsement as governor and its highest rating for supporting the rights of gun owners, the bill represented a compromise balancing concerns on both sides of the gun debate.

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