Tuesday, Sep 18, 2018
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Florida leads on guns

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott signs the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Act in the governor’s office in Tallahassee, Fla.

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Florida has led the way in advocating substantive tightening of gun laws, and the Trump administration should follow Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s lead.

Florida’s law, already passed by the legislature and signed by the governor, confronts the threat of gun violence and mass shootings in several important ways.

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The law raises the age limit to buy a long gun from 18 to 21 years old. It extends the three-day waiting period for handgun purchases to include long guns. It bans bump stocks, which allow guns to mimic fully automatic fire. It also creates a so-called “guardian program,” enabling some teachers and other school employees to carry guns.

It also breaks with the National Rifle Association, something every state legislature and the Congress should no longer be afraid to do when dealing with gun laws.

As the site of the nation’s most recent mass school shooting, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida has appropriately and expeditiously led the way. And, as a Republican-leaning state, it has blazed a trail that other Republican states can follow.

It seems likely such a law might have prevented the slayings of 17 people in Parkland as the shooter was 19 at the time. He would not have been able to buy a gun, very simply.

The NRA has filed a lawsuit, contending that the measure “punishes law-abiding gun owners for the criminal acts of a deranged individual.” Age limits and waiting periods are not “punishment.” The NRA’s lawsuit will most likely end up before the U.S. Supreme Court, which can then decide whether the law violates the Second Amendment.

The NRA is right that the Parkland gunman gave warning signs that were ignored by federal and state officials. That doesn’t remove the onus on government to keep dangerous and immature people from owning weapons capable of mass murder.

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President Trump’s gun legislation, as unveiled Sunday night, was a modest start in comparison. The president’s initial proposal is for firearms training for teachers, and to encourage the states to adopt “red flag” laws, allowing police to temporarily take guns away from people deemed to be a danger to themselves or others.

The president could have pushed the envelope with respect to the NRA, but chose not to — this from a president who chided U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) as being afraid of the NRA, while claiming to have no such fear himself.

The White House appeared to have vacillated on the issue of raising the minimum age to purchase guns; a spokesman early on Sunday said raising the age would be part of the White House plan, but it was missing when the plan was officially rolled out.

It could well be that the president decided on an incremental approach, and to seek congressional approval of what can be accomplished.

Follow @BladeOpinion on Twitter.

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