Senate Bill 7026 and Coalitions, Special Interest Groups Supporting It
Senate Bill 7026 was submitted as a Committee Bill on February 26, 2018. It was created as a result of the Parkland shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and was reported favorably by Senate Rules Committee. Senate Bill 7026 was sponsored by the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate Rules Committee.
The Senate Appropriations Committee was created on March 6, 1867 as a result of funds being misused (“Appropriations Committee”, 2018). Whenever they used to run out of money, due to the danger of tasks not being done properly, it urged the congress to give the senate more money (“Appropriations Committee”, 2018). When the offices had an excess of money, they spent it however, they wanted. After the Civil War, it complicated federal funding thus they created a committee that will oversee the funding.
The Senate Rules Committee was not created until April 17, 1867 (“History”, n.d). The committee was created to be a standing committee and their role was to revised the rule of the senate and its procedure as well as make any changes to the rules as was appropriate. It was not until December 9, 1874 where it became known as the Committee on Rules instead of the Select Committee on the Revision of the Rules (“History”, n.d).
Legislative Support and Opposition
The Florida legislator has put gun control as one of their number one priorities as a result of the mass shooting in Parkland (“Orlando Sentinel”, 2018). They have spent a significant amount of time trying to find the best solution for this massacre. After a lot of debates, Senate Bill 7026 was put into action with a vote of 20-18. This bill will put some restriction on guns and an additional $400 million will go to mental health services and school security (“Orlando Sentinel”, 2018). By providing more funding for mental health services and school security, it can help decrease the number of school shooting if intervention happens early.
Senator Bill Galvano was one of the 20 senators who supported this bill. Senator Galvano stated, “This bill will make a difference now. When it becomes law, things will start changing. It will be one of those areas where we can stand up and say to the families, to the communities, to the children, and to our children that we listened and we are trying” (Call, 2018). His statement shows that they are doing everything that they can to decrease the amount of gun violence in school as well as increase school safety, hence the proposal of this bill.
Senator Bill Montford and Senator Lauren Book also voted in favor of this bill even though they have some reservation about certain parts of the bill. On one hand, Senator Book does not agree with the section of the bill that allows teachers to be carrying guns in school. She stated, “If we walk away from $400 million — is teachers carrying guns a poison pill? Absolutely, I can’t imagine that. But there are others in this who have embraced it. My position is to leave it up to them.
There is never enough money for anything we do up here. School districts are always having to scrape to come up with money” (Call, 2018). I understand where she is coming from as that might pose more harm than good considering our current situation with multiple gun violence. On the other hand, Senator Garcia support this bill and stated the reason for school shooting for the past 18 months has been as a result of mental illness (Call, 2018). She supported this bill’s inclusion of additional $400 million that provides the expansion of mental health services.
Although Senate Bill 7026 was passed as a result of the Parkland shooting and trying to reduce gun violence in school, many are not happy with the new legislation. Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo, was one of the individuals that was not impressed with this new bill. Rizzo, stated “this is not the legislation the Parkland students fought for — this does not go far enough to protect our students from gun violence” (Call, 2018). This bill does not include universal background checks or ban assault weapons. It is bringing more gun in the school by allowing school personnel to carry weapons.
Senator Baxley was another individual who voted against this bill, he found the age limit to be discriminatory and find it to be a violation of the second amendment rights (Call, 2018). The senators that opposed this bill were Senator Gibson, Grimsley, Hukill, Lee, Powell, Rodriguez, Rouson, Steube, Stewart, Taddeo, Thurston, and Torres. Each of these individuals who opposed this bill had their own reason why they oppose it. Opposition ranged from violation of rights to age limits.
Identification of Coalitions, Special Interest Groups, and Organizations
At least $400 million dollars has been invested inquiring school safety and mental health services. Multiple steps have been taken to enhance school safety and decrease the risks of another school shooting. Due to the enactment of this law, more steps has been taken into account to increase the sharing of information between the sheriff department, the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), and any community behavioral health providers to provide any type of required intervention or prevention strategies (“Gov. Rick Scott”, 2018).
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has been a big supporter for this new legislation. There are multiple reasons why NAMI supports Senate Bill 7026; one of the reasons mentioned in the press release is that it raises the age limit for gun purchases. It does not require teachers to be armed, and it addresses ways to remove firearms from the home (NAMI, 2018). NAMI is the largest organization that supports individuals with mental illness and is only interested in the provision of mental health services to the individual that were involved in the Parkland shooting.
As mental illness is a serious issue and has been part of the reason of some of the school shooting happening in the US, it show us how important it is to get the person the help they need. NAMI has been helpful in providing public awareness, psychoeducation, designing services to address prevention, intervention and other strategies for mental health service delivery (Roberts, 2018). This law opens up doors for those who are suffering from a mental illness or their loved ones and also reduce the stigma associated with mental illness. This organization main purpose is to advocate on behalf of those suffering from a mental illness as well as promote recovery and improve treatment for those receiving treatment.
Although this bill was written with the interest of keeping the public safe and reducing the amount of gun violence; there are certain organizations who were not in favor of the bill and strongly opposes its enactment. The League of Women Voters of Florida (LWVFL) was amongst one of Senate Bill 7026’s vocal opponents. The LWVFL oppose the policy that will arm staffs at schools in regards to enhancing school safety, as they are not school safety officers (“Coalition Statement”, 2018).
The LWVFL believes that it will do the school more harm than good and will not properly protect the school. This organization was not the only coalition that opposed this new bill. Other organizations such as the Firearms Policy Coalition believe that this bill is a violation of Floridians’ second amendment rights (“Oppose FL SB 7026”, n.d). Chris Wagoner, member of Florida Firearms Coalition, supports the LWVFL’s stance against Senate Bill 7026. He finds the bill unconstitutional and found it to be an infringement of his rights as well as many others who are subjected to this law (Wagoner, 2018).
The NRA is one of the largest organization with over five million members. NRA is a non-profit American organization advocates for gun rights. Colonel William C. Church and General George Wingate founded this organization in 1871 (“About the NRA”, n.d). It was known for its promotion of gun safety and proper use of firearms. NRA’s mission is to protect and defend the Constitution of the US through public safety, lobby for and against any form of gun control legislation and to lobby for gun owner’s rights (“About the NRA”, n.d).
The National Rifle Association (NRA) stands with the LWVFL in opposition of Senate Bill 7026 arming school personnel. NRA was another organization that advocate against this new bill. They were the most vocal opponent and wanted it to die out in senate. The NRA filed a federal lawsuit against Florida for enacting this bill. Arguments such as breaking off one’s amendment rights were pursued. They also argued about the age limit of the bill being change from 18 years old to 21 years old violates the 14th amendment (Sanchez & Yan, 2018), which can be understandable as 18 years old is not too far off from 21 years old.