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Grieving Parkland Parents Urge Nation to Follow Florida's Lead

Florida Gov. Rick Scott signs the new gun-control bill into law. (Trimmel Gomes)
Florida Gov. Rick Scott signs the new gun-control bill into law. (Trimmel Gomes)
March 12, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Even though the National Rifle Association sued the state of Florida just after Gov. Rick Scott signed a new gun control bill Friday afternoon, parents of the victims at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are calling on other states to follow Florida's lead.

SB 7026 raises the minimum age to buy a rifle from 18 to 21, bans the sale of bump stocks and creates a three-day waiting period for all gun purchases, while also allowing for the arming of school staff on Florida campuses. The NRA is now asking a federal judge to block the age restriction and keep the bill from being enforced.

But Tony Montalto, father of Parkland shooting victim Gina Montalto, is calling on other states to emulate Florida in creating tighter gun restrictions.

"We have paid a terrible price for this progress,” Montalto said. “We call on more states to follow Florida's lead and create meaningful legislation to make all schools safer. This time must be different."

The NRA said 18-year-olds are considered adults in most aspects, and thus should be able to exercise their Second Amendment rights. The organization also said the bill works against the 14th amendment's equal protection clause by not allowing 18- to 21-year-olds who follow the laws to buy a rifle.

The bill comes just over three weeks after a 19-year-old former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland walked onto the campus and killed 17 students and staff.

A Republican-controlled Legislature makes the bill's passage a notable achievement for survivors of the shooting and parents, who launched a new gun control campaign. State Rep. Jared Moskowitz, a Democrat who represents northern Broward County, said the lawsuit is no surprise, since the NRA has tried to stop the bill several times before.

"It's unequivocal. They wanted this bill to fail because they know if we leave here with gun control, this will be a wind behind the sails of those kids as they march into Washington, D.C.” Moskowitz said. “They know the world is paying attention."

Gov. Scott, an NRA member himself, said members of the organization both agree and disagree with the passage of the bill, and added that it isn't perfect in his eyes, either.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - FL