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Saturday, March 10, 2018

My Thoughts on SB 7026

I would like to congratulate the State of Florida on passing a bill that makes no one happy. That takes skill.

It's technically a compromise, in that compromises usually make no one happy because each side gives a little to get a little, but in this case the compromise seems composed of the absolute worst of both worlds and benefits hardly anyone.

Come, let us analyze what SB 7026, the "Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act" does. I'll go through it in order as it appears on the bill:

Creates grants to fund student crime watch programs
There's not a lot of information on this; the section to which it refers, 1006.07(3) simply says
(3) STUDENT CRIME WATCH PROGRAM.—By resolution of the district school board, implement a student crime watch program to promote responsibility among students and to assist in the control of criminal behavior within the schools.
So this bill will allow more money to be given to a nebulous program. This is not a big surprise; government's solutions to many problems is to throw money at it. I expect that this money will be mishandled, misappropriated, and embezzled; business as usual, to be honest.

Creates the Office of Safe Schools
The Office of Safe Schools serves to promote and support safe learning environments by addressing issues of student safety and academic success on state, district, and school levels. Schools that implement school safety measures, drug prevention programs, and positive school climate that promote caring relationships either directly or indirectly facilitate rising student academic achievement.
I assume this will be the governmental body which administers the grant process and oversees the spending of the funds, so read the previous section about graft and mismanagement again.

Creates the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program 
There's a saying that There's nothing which can be done that the Government can't do poorly, and this section is an exemplar of that aphorism.  This section manages to offend both sides of the political aisle by allowing some people to carry guns in school (offending the anti-gun left), but it does so in the stupidest, most inefficient manner possible (offending the pro-gun right).

Let's break it down:
  1. This entire section hinges on whether or not the county sheriff allows it. 
  2. Creates "school guardians" who are allowed to carry on school grounds, but only to react to an active shooter; no other powers are given. TL;DR they have no law enforcement powers. I think it's a sad commentary that this needs to be spelled out, but we live in a stupid world. 
  3. Specifically excluded from the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program are "individuals who exclusively perform classroom duties as classroom teachers as defined in s. 1012.01(2)(a)." That relevant statute reads

    (a) Classroom teachers.—Classroom teachers are staff members assigned the professional activity of instructing students in courses in classroom situations, including basic instruction, exceptional student education, career education, and adult education, including substitute teachers.

    Meaning that actual classroom teachers can't carry, but coaches, librarians, principles, guidance counselors, hall monitors, janitors, secretaries, nurses, etc can all theoretically carry. 
  4. Specifically excluded from that exclusion -- meaning that they can indeed carry firearms -- are 
    • JROTC classroom teachers;
    • active-duty servicemembers (I assume this is there to cover other JROTC staff who aren't specifically teachers;
    • current or former law enforcement officers. 
  5.  The sheriff (see 1, above) gets to appoint who becomes school guardians out of a pool of volunteers. 
  6. These volunteers have requirements that are actually above and beyond what are required for police academy graduates:
    1. Hold a valid CWP. 
    2. Complete 132 total hours of comprehensive firearm safety and proficiency training conducted by Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission-certified instructors, which must include:
      • Eighty hours of firearms instruction based on the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission’s Law Enforcement Academy training model, which must include at least 10 percent but no more than 20 percent more rounds fired than associated with academy training. Program participants must achieve an 85 percent pass rate on the firearms training.
      • Sixteen hours of instruction in precision pistol.
      • Eight hours of discretionary shooting instruction using state-of-the-art simulator exercises.
      • Eight hours of instruction in active shooter or assailant scenarios.
      • Eight hours of instruction in defensive tactics.
      • Twelve hours of instruction in legal issues.
    3. Pass a psychological evaluation administered by a psychologist licensed under chapter 490 and designated by the Department of Law Enforcement and submit the results of the evaluation to the sheriff’s office. The Department of Law Enforcement is authorized to provide the sheriff’s office with mental health and substance abuse data for compliance with this paragraph.
    4. Submit to and pass an initial drug test and subsequent random drug tests.
    5. Successfully complete ongoing training, weapon inspection, and firearm qualification on at least an annual basis.
    6. Successfully complete at least 12 hours of a certified nationally recognized diversity training program.
So just to recap here, teachers -- who have already had their background checked because they are working with minors for eight hours a day -- must not only be psychologically tested to see if they're fit to carry a gun in school, but they are also required to become shooting experts and requalify at least once a year and complete 12 hours of diversity training because why the hell not?

I have it on good authority from LawDog that is is more training than police academy graduates get:
"When I went through the Academy in 1993, we had 40 hours of training. And [my Academy] was considered fairly heavy on firearms training, because roughly half of that time was revolver, and the other half semi-auto.
"I don't know of any current State Peace Officer academy that currently does more than 110 hours of firearms training, and most do considerably less.
"The Texas State-mandated annual requalification for peace officers mandates a minimum of 50 rounds, from 3 yards to 15 yards and a 70% pass rate, once a calendar year to maintain your peace officer licence.
"As a contrast, the State of Texas currently requires armed security guards, private investigators and Personal Protection Officers to have a minimum of 10 hours of firearms training to get licensed."
So there you go: Florida legislators truly want armed teachers to possess more shooting experience than police officers.

Really, this entire section ought to be called the We Don't Really Want Anyone Except Cops and JROTC Instructors Armed So We're Going To Make It Nearly Impossible To Qualify Oh And Let's Tack On Coah Feis's Name So It Looks Like We Did Something Program. 

This is what gun-rights activists mean when we say that we don't want the government mandating training requirements before we're allowed to own guns, because they'll end up looking like this: a massive time and money sink designed to keep average people from exercising their rights.

Allows schools to employ retired police officers as school resource officers
There's a lot of legal verbiage after this, but the short version is the title. I expect a lot of schools will do this, and I have no real problem with it, but this is another salary which has to be paid and that money has to come from the school budget. It would be cheaper to allow CWP holders to carry their lawful firearms, but they don't have the magical radiance of having been a cop and laws like these are all about the magical radiance.

Creates community action treatment teams throughout the state
This is an add-on to the mental health statues that basically says extra effort and money will be spent to create teams that will pay special attention to high-risk kids ages 11-21 to make sure they don't go nuts and kill people.

The risk factors are
  1. Repeated failures at less intensive levels of care;
  2. Two or more behavioral health hospitalizations;
  3. Involvement with the Department of Juvenile Justice;
  4. A history of multiple episodes involving law enforcement; or
  5. A record of poor academic performance or suspensions.
I don't have a problem with this, although it is a tacit admission that the state has screwed up and neglected kids with behavioral issues.

Forbids firearms possession for the mentally defective 
I honestly don't know why this is here, because Florida statute s. 790.065 (2) says basically the same thing. 

Raises the minimum age of all firearm purchases from 18 to 21
... unless you're a police officer or an active-duty service member.

This is pure virtue signalling and nothing more, because it is unconstitutional. Federal law (which overrules state laws -- and we had a little war about 150 years ago to decide that fact) says that 18 is the age of legal adulthood, and adults can buy firearms for self-defense per the Second Amendment. Since the State of Florida is denying adults their Second Amendment rights (and if you legally restrict purchasing firearms, you are restricting the keeping and bearing thereof), this won't stand moderate scrutiny.

I had expected that a Florida citizen between 18 and 20 years old, ideally a military veteran,  would sue the state under the premise of "I was old enough to join the military and operate fully automatic weapons (and in the ideal case, be not only trained in their use but also used them in combat) and yet I'm not 'adult' enough to buy a semi-automatic version of my service rifle for personal use?" because that would be fantastic standing. However, it seems that the NRA was waiting for this because the same day that Florida Governor Scott signed the bill, the NRA sued the State of Florida because -- you guessed it -- the law is unconstitutional.

Done right, this lawsuit could then be used to challenge the federal law which states that adults must be 21 years old before they can purchase a handgun. I'm not holding my breath on that, but it's a possibility.

EDIT:  I JUST NOTICED THIS

Thanks to a question from Oleg Volk, I checked the statute and to my un-lawlerly eyes, it looks like the text of the law only forbids sales to 18-20 year-olds from licensed dealers; private sales are still fine.

This isn't anything I'd want to test, though, because a test case is expensive and I'm too pretty for prison.



Creates a three-day waiting period for all firearm purchases
Florida already mandated a 3 day "cooling off" period for handgun purchases, but long guns could be taken home immediately. This period is now mandated for all purchases unless you have a Concealed Weapons Permit [no wait for anything], have completed a hunting safety course [no wait for long guns], or are a law enforcement officer or active duty military [no wait for anything], which means that if you're a woman in fear for her life from a stalker or an ex, you're vulnerable for 3 days unless you can get a gun from a friend.

In other words, this does nothing to stop crime and only hurts the law-abiding, but it might drive more people to get their CWP.

Prohibits bump-fire stocks
There's been a lot of freaking out over this one, mainly due to how it's phrased.

On the one hand, the bill begins with
790.222 Bump-fire stocks prohibited.—A person may not import into this state or transfer, distribute, sell, keep for sale, offer for sale, possess, or give to another person a bump fire stock. A person who violates this section commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. 
Okay, so it calls out bump-fire stocks. Gun owners don't like this, because it's banning something and the camel gets more of its head into the proverbial tent, but it's just bump stocks, right?

Well, the very next part of the bill reads
As used in this section, the term “bump fire stock” means a conversion kit, a tool, an accessory, or a device used to alter the rate of fire of a firearm to mimic automatic weapon fire or which is used to increase the rate of fire to a faster rate than is possible for a person to fire such semiautomatic firearm unassisted by a kit, a tool, an accessory,  or a device.
Emphasis mine. Some people are worried this could mean competition triggers, trigger jobs, or even lubing the trigger could be considered a "bump fire stock." I doubt this, but I admit that it's possible.

Creates the Risk Protection Order Act
There's a lot to this section, and I can't go into it in detail. If you want all the crunchy details, I encourage you to read the whole thing yourself. For those of you who want the highlight reel, this act is
...intended to temporarily prevent individuals who are at high risk of harming themselves or others from accessing firearms or ammunition by allowing law enforcement officers to obtain a court order when there is demonstrated evidence that a person poses a significant danger to himself or herself or others,  including significant danger as a result of a mental health crisis or violent behavior.
So basically, if the cops think you're a danger to yourself or others, a court order can be issued where they seize (well, "you must surrender to them") all firearms and ammunition until such time as you can prove to them that you aren't a danger. This hearing must take place within 14 of the order being issued, and if you can prove to them that you aren't a danger, they must give your guns and ammo back within 30 days.

The 'good news' in this bill is that you're allowed to give your guns and ammo to someone else for safekeeping, so long as you don't have access to it (so you couldn't give your stuff to a family member who lives in the same house as you). This ought to increase the likelihood of getting your property back in full and undamaged.

This bill is one of those things which sounds good, and probably will be used to do some good, but is also rich with opportunity for abuse. I can easily envision feuding family members using this to make life hell for their relatives.

Creates a School Safety Awareness Program
This is "a mobile suspicious activity reporting tool that allows students and the community to relay information anonymously concerning unsafe, potentially harmful, dangerous, violent, or criminal activities, or the threat of these activities, to appropriate public safety agencies and school officials."

In other words, it's a smartphone app where you can voice your concerns and/or snitch on people. 

Creates the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission
A state-level committee that will "investigate system failures in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting and prior mass violence incidents in this state and develop recommendations for system improvements." 

In other words, they're going to spend a lot of time and money pointing fingers and trying to come up with ways to prevent future shootings

Creates the Florida Safe Schools Assessment Tool
The FL Dept of Education will contract with a security consulting firm to create the Safe School Assessment Tool to identify threats and vulnerabilities and then implement safety changes. From what I can tell, legislators have finally realized that school shootings aren't stopped by gun-free zones and are treating them like fires, and will research ways to make schools less vulnerable to gunmen.

Authorizes spending lots of money to fund these programs
How much?  Around $400 million, with about $200 million in recurring funds. God knows where Florida is going to get the money for almost half a billion in school improvements. 

Too Long, Did Not Read version:
No one is happy except the bureaucrats.

2 comments:

  1. I agree 100% well put....sharing������������

    ReplyDelete
  2. Shared with this comment:

    No better example of "BS KNEEJERK RACTTION THAT WILL ACCOMPLISH NOTHING & LIKELY MAKE THINGS WORSE but we're politicians & it lets us say we did something"

    An anonymous smartphone app?

    Anyone heard of "swatting"?

    Let's give schoolkids an app they can use to ANONYMOUSLY "SWAT" their peers! What genius thought THAT up?!

    THAT ALONE will generate so much nonsense that the real dancers will be lost in the shuffle.

    There is NO PROBLEM that government cannot make WORSE!

    ReplyDelete

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