Florida's New Gun Rules Are a Turning Point

(Bloomberg View) -- For evidence that the tide is turning on responsible gun regulation, Florida is now Exhibit A.

The state’s politicians have long produced some of the most irresponsible gun proposals in the U.S., encouraging concealed carry of firearms and enacting “Stand Your Ground” laws that shielded reckless shooters from responsibility.

This week, they took a new and promising direction. Governor Rick Scott, who has worked hard for his A+ rating from the National Rifle Association, signed bipartisan legislation imposing new gun-safety regulations throughout the state.

The law raises the age to buy all firearms from 18 to 21 and bans both the sale and possession of bump stocks, which enable semi-automatic rifles to mimic automatic weapons. It imposes a three-day waiting period on most long-gun purchases. It establishes a red-flag process to empower local law-enforcement officials to petition a court to remove guns from an individual showing warning signs of violence. It will establish new mental-health programs for schools and create an anonymous tip line for students to report threats.

Other states, too, have taken sensible action on guns in recent weeks. Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo signed an executive order establishing a red-flag law. Oregon adopted legislation prohibiting domestic abusers and people under restraining orders from owning firearms. In the U.S. Senate, Democrat Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have proposed a federal red-flag bill.

Florida’s turn is the most dramatic. Three weeks after the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the state has taken actions that previously seemed impossible. The law is hardly the comprehensive approach that’s still needed: Many useful provisions were shelved, and the final legislation includes a dubious “guardian” program to allow school staff with firearms training to carry concealed handguns.

Never mind: The law is a clear and decisive stride in the right direction. If Florida can take steps toward responsible gun regulation, it can happen anywhere.

--Editors: Francis Wilkinson, Clive Crook

To contact the senior editor responsible for Bloomberg View’s editorials: David Shipley at davidshipley@bloomberg.net.

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