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Wed, 07 Mar 2018 14:06 - Updated Wed, 07 Mar 2018 14:06

Florida lawmakers near final action on gun-school safety bill

FORT LAUDERDALE, - Florida state lawmakers were due to vote once more on Wednesday on a gun-safety package that would raise the legal age for buying rifles, impose a three-day waiting period on all firearms sales and allow the arming of some public school personnel.

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The legislation, which narrowly cleared the state Senate on Monday, was spurred by the shooting deaths last month of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and the remarkable lobbying campaign mounted by young survivors of the massacre.

The state House of Representatives rejected three dozen amendments to the bill on Tuesday, including a last-ditch bid to strip the legislation of any measures permitting school staff to carry guns to work.

The bill was scheduled to return to the House floor on Wednesday for what could be a final vote. Any amendments offered at that stage would require a two-thirds vote for approval.

If the bill passes the House unchanged, it would automatically become law within 15 days, unless vetoed or signed by the governor beforehand.

Swift action in the Republican-controlled Tallahassee statehouse, where the National Rifle Association has long held sway, signaled a possible turning point in the national debate between gun control advocates and proponents of firearms rights enshrined in the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The bill under consideration this week represented both a break with the NRA on gun sale restrictions and a partial acceptance of its proposition that the best defense against armed criminals is the presence of “good guys with guns.”

To that end, the bill creates a program allowing local sheriffs to deputize school staff as volunteer armed “guardians,” subject to special training, mental health and drug screening and a license to carry a concealed weapon. Each school district would decide whether to opt into the program.

But classroom teachers are excluded as participants unless they meet one of three narrow criteria - they are Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps instructors, serve in the U.S. military or are former police officers,REUTERS.

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