Florida lawmakers advance bill to restrict gun purchases ahead of final vote
PENSACOLA, Fla. (WEAR) — The Florida Senate is moving forward with a bill that would increase school safety and restrict gun purchases.
This happened during a rare weekend session on Saturday that turned into a debate on gun control and arming teachers after last month's Parkland School shooting.
Lawmakers spent nearly eight hours debating dozens of amendments to the bill before finally approving the legislation for a final vote on Monday.
WEAR called Sen. Doug Broxson who says much of the debate Saturday revolved around gun control and whether people should have a right to own an assault rifle.
Jennifer Higginbotham and her 16-year-old son Robbie talk about gun control a lot.
'I'm for gun control and for gun rights," explained Higginbotham.
Higginbotham works in a local school district and thinks raising the age limit to buy an assault rifle makes sense.
"I believe in raising the age just because I think that we allow kids to do a lot of things too early before they're ready for that maturity level," she added.
On Saturday night, lawmakers rejected an assault weapons ban and moved forward with a plan to arm teachers in schools.
The votes came in after an unexpected meeting in Tallahassee.
Lawmakers spent the day on legislation in response to the school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School.
WEAR also spoke with called Sen. Doug Broxson.
Broxson says more than 100 amendments were offered to the bill Saturday night.
"This is going to be a marathon, we've got to find ways to anticipate the use of any violence and there may be a way to do that. Maybe we can do it through social, maybe we can do it through a mental health while helping many of these kids that are going through major trauma in their personal lives and try to get there before the event happens," said Broxson.
The bill will also boost school security, add new mental health programs in schools, and improve communication between schools, law enforcement, and state agencies.
It’s something Higginbotham believes will help keep her son and many of her students safe.
"I agree with more resource officers so we have that protection within our school, that may be a better option and to have more professional development on mental issues that we face in the schools," Higginbotham said.
Lawmakers are expected to approve the bill on Monday and send it to the house, where leaders their hope to approve it in time for it to reach the governor's desk before the session ends on Friday.