Couple who took in shooting suspect speak to grand jury

Couple who took in shooting suspect speak to grand jury

After debating for hours Tuesday, the Florida House set up a vote that could come as early as Wednesday on a bill addressing gun access and school safety in Florida in the aftermath of the February 14 mass shooting at a Broward County high school, including the implementation of a "school marshal plan" that would allow some school employees to carry firearms on campus. The $400 million package includes more than $100 million for mental health screening and services and at least $25 million to raze and rebuild the building where 19-year-old gunman Nikolas Cruz, who had a lengthy history of mental health problems, used an assault-style rifle to slay teachers and students at the school he once attended.

She also would have liked a ban on assault-style rifles, like numerous students who traveled to the state Capitol to ask lawmakers to go even further to stop future mass shootings.

The Senate hearing coincides with school walkouts on March 14, organized with help from a "youth empowerment" arm of the Women's March, the group that led nationwide protests against President Trump's administration the day after his inauguration. The program would be voluntary, implemented only if the sheriff's department and school district agree.

Gov. Rick Scott, who was in Puerto Rico at the time the Senate passed the bill Monday evening, has repeatedly said he does not want armed teachers in schools, something that black lawmakers as a bloc also oppose. Republicans and Democrats alike said there were parts of the bill they didn't like.

Lawmakers will have to work quickly to get a bill on the governor's desk. But Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami, argued the "exclusive" language means that teachers who double as coaches -- such as Douglas High teacher Scott Beigel, who was among the 17 people killed -- could bring guns into classrooms.

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Referring to the school safety bill, Hoyer said, "We ought to put additional protections, not just for students, but people in theaters, nightclubs, shopping malls and churches alike".

"I suspect that with an 18 to 20 vote, they're probably going to take this bill in the House", Lee, R- Thonotosassa, said. In addition to the gun restrictions and arming some school personnel, it would create new mental health programs for schools, improve communication between schools, law enforcement and state agencies, create a task force to look at mistakes made during mass shootings nationally and then make recommendations on how to continue to improve law, and establish an anonymous tip line where students and others can report threats to schools.

Hoyer, speaking to reporters, also called for votes on assault weapon restrictions, broader gun-sale background checks and banning "bump stocks" that can increase the firing capacity of a weapon.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate and the lead sponsor of the background checks bill, said Tuesday he is frustrated that lawmakers keep attempting to add gun-related proposals to his bill, a relatively modest measure that would bolster the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. "When it becomes law, things will start changing".

"He talked about change and what needed to happen, which is kind of amusing to me - a government official did absolutely nothing, and a professional basketball player talked to us and was real with us", the 17-year-old senior said. It was not clear whether or how the House might amend the bill. "We were able to stand up and say to the families to the communities, to the children, to our children, that we listened and we're trying", he said. The House could vote on the measure as soon as Wednesday. "God help us if they send it back".

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