TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP/WTSP) — Time is ticking.
State lawmakers could vote as soon as Monday on something not seen in decades in Florida: new limits on guns.
The Florida Senate on Saturday agreed to advance a bill that would increase school safety and restrict gun purchases during a rare weekend session that often turned into a debate on gun control and arming teachers in the aftermath of last month’s Parkland school shootings.
The Senate spent nearly eight hours in a rare weekend session on Saturday debating dozens of amendments to the 100-page bill before finally approving the legislation for a final vote on Monday.
Democratic proposals to ban assault rifles and large-capacity magazines were rejected, as was a Democratic proposal to strip language from the bill that would create a program to arm teachers who have gone through law-enforcement training if school districts choose to take part in the so-called marshal plan.
While crafted by Republicans, some GOP senators still opposed it because they don’t agree with raising the minimum age to buy a rifle from 18 to 21, or requiring a waiting period to buy the weapons.
Democrats believe the legislation doesn’t go far enough in some ways and too far in others. And while some oppose the bill, others believe it is at least a first step toward gun safety.
Democrats want to ban weapons such as the AR-15 assault-style rifle, which was used to kill 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14.
Many also oppose arming teachers.
Daren Essig, a history teacher at Turkey Creek Middle School in Plant City, argues that arming teachers is not the solution to the problem.
"I don’t think it’s going to solve the problem or make our kids any safer," he said. "I don’t think more guns being on campus is the solution. We have resource officers already on campus with guns.”
Essig worries more guns on campus increases the chances of a student being hurt or killed by accident. He says the solution should be more trained school resource officers.
But teachers like Essig's colleague, Trevor Burmeister, say more SRO's adds cost, which can be saved by training and arming someone already working in the school. Burmeister likens an armed teacher or administrator to an air marshal on a plane.
"There are marshals who fly on flights every single day, they’re there, we know they’re there, do we know who they are," he said.
"I’ve been saying for years that the only way to deter people from choosing a school as a target is to harden that target and make it less desirable."
The bill does include provisions to boost school security, establish new mental health programs in schools, and improve communication between schools, law enforcement, and state agencies.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans support stricter laws on gun sales, including an increasing number of Republicans, but the public divides on the idea of allowing more teachers and school officials to carry guns, according to a recent CBS News poll. Arming teachers draws partisan splits, with Republicans in favor and Democrats opposed.
The Legislature wraps up its annual session on Friday. Lawmakers are scrambling to take some kind of action before then. The full House has yet to take up its version of the bill.
Republican Gov. Rick Scott has been lobbying lawmakers to pass his plan to assign at least one law-enforcement officer for every 1,000 students at a school. Scott is opposed to arming teachers.
CBS News and 10News reporter Josh Sidorowicz contributed to this report.
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