U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis says he's disappointed in Florida lawmakers for "rushing to restrict" the gun rights of law-abiding citizens two weeks after 17 students and teachers were killed at a Parkland high school.
DeSantis, who's the leading Republican candidate for governor after being randomly endorsed by President Donald Trump, has waited days to address whether more gun restrictions are necessary after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
"We'll have time to debate this stuff," he said the day after the shooting, according to the Miami New Times
In a statement Thursday, DeSantis said the mass shooting in Parkland "represented a catastrophic failure by the Broward County Sheriff's office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation."
"I have been clear that the FBI needs to provide full transparency to Congress and the personnel responsible for the failure need to be terminated," DeSantis said. "I also support the immediate resignation of Broward Sheriff Scott Israel as well as Governor Scott's call for an independent investigation of the entire department."
DeSantis said he opposes requiring teachers and administrators to carry firearms, which so far, no one
has proposed. The state House plan directs $67 million to a "school marshal" program where local law enforcement would train and arm voluntary teachers, pending approval from school boards or superintendents. A similar Senate plan requires additional approval from local sheriffs. DeSantis does, though, back arming teachers.
"Parkland demonstrated the need to provide adequate security at Florida’s schools," he said. "I support Governor Scott’s initiative to improve safety and harden these schools. While I don’t think any teacher or administrator should be required to carry a firearm, I believe that those who possess a concealed carry license and are so inclined should not be barred from doing so on campus. What is more, I think it’s important to establish a program so that we can enlist the help of retired military and law enforcement personnel to ensure that our students are safe while they learn."
So far, Florida lawmakers have declined to an assault weapons ban at least three times after the Parkland shooting, which is what many student survivors and parents have been advocating for. But lawmakers have some gun restrictions, raising the gun-buying age from 18 to 21, establishing a three-day waiting period for gun purchases, banning bump stocks and allowing police to petition courts for risk protection order to restrict the firearms of people who might be a danger to themselves or others. The House and Senate plan have also called for an increase in the budget for school safety and mental health counseling.
"Anyone who is a danger to themselves or to society should not be permitted to wreak havoc in our communities, be it with a firearm or via other means," DeSantis said. "Given that the issues of bureaucratic incompetence, school safety and mental health demand immediate attention, I’m disappointed that the Florida Legislature is rushing to restrict the rights of law-abiding citizens. When dealing with a right that is specifically enumerated in the Constitution, blanket restrictions that diminish individual rights are suspect. Better to focus on denying firearms to dangerous individuals, which avoids infringing on constitutional rights and is also more likely to be effective."
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