Florida lawmakers pass gun control measures, will it make a difference - What's Your Point?

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This week's panel: Jessica Colon - Republican strategist, Nyanza Moore - progressive commentator and Houston attorney, Tony Diaz- Chicano educator and activist, Marcus Davis - host of "Sunday Morning Live", Bill King - businessman, columnist and former Kemah Mayor, and David Balat – health care executive  join Greg Groogan in the ongoing discussion about gun control.

Gun control is one of the most polarizing issues in U.S. society. For nearly a century, legislation and U.S. Supreme Court cases have shaped federal gun policy. Following are some pivotal moments in that history:

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1871 -The National Rifle Association is formed by two Union veterans who were disappointed by the lack of marksmanship by their troops. The goal of the group was to "promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis," one of the veterans wrote in a magazine editorial, according to the NRA.

1927 - Congress passes the "Nonmailable Firearms Act of 1927, making it illegal to use the U.S. mail to ship "pistols, revolvers, and other firearms capable of being concealed on the person." Exceptions were made for military, police and other official purposes. The penalty for violations was up to two years in prison and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

1934 - The National Firearms Act, the first comprehensive federal gun control legislation, is enacted, aimed at cracking down on the bloody gangland era of Al Capone, John Dillinger and others. The law imposed a $200 tax, which was considered prohibitive at the time, on machine guns and shotguns and rifles with barrels shorter than 18 inches. It also required the federal registration of these types of firearms. The act was part of President Franklin Roosevelt's "New Deal for Crime."

1938 - The Federal Firearms Act of 1938 takes effect, requiring firearms licenses for gun dealers, manufacturers and importers. It compelled sellers to keep customer records and banned sales to some people, including convicted felons.

1939 - The U.S. Supreme Court, in U.S. v. Miller, rules that a short-barrel shotgun is not a weapon protected under the Second Amendment.

1968 - The assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, the Rev. Martin Luther King and Sen. Robert Kennedy lead to the Gun Control Act of 1968. It created new categories of firearms crimes, banned the sale of firearms and ammunition to felons and other prohibited groups of people, and imposed federal jurisdiction over "destructive devices," including bombs and grenades, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

1986 - The Firearm Owners' Protection Act amends the 1968 law, relaxing some gun control measures. It limited ATF inspections of sellers to once a year, repealed some record-keeping requirements for the sale of ammunition, prohibited the government from establishing a national registry of gun owners, and permitted gun dealers, importers and manufacturers to do business at temporary locations, such as gun shows.

1993 - The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 requires federal background checks before a firearm can be purchased from a federally licensed dealer, manufacturer or importer. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which is maintained by the FBI, conducts the checks. The law is named after James Brady, who was seriously wounded in an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan in 1981 when he was serving as White House press secretary. Reagan and two others also were shot. Brady died in 2014.

1994 - Congress passes a 10-year ban on the manufacture, transfer and possession of new semi-automatic assault weapons. The ban was part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which also banned certain large capacity ammunition magazines. The measure applied only to weapons manufactured after the ban was enacted, and it expired in 2004. Numerous efforts to renew it have failed.

2003 - The Tiahrt Amendment, proposed by Todd Tiahrt, a Kansas Republican, bars the ATF from publicly releasing information about where criminals bought their firearms.

2005 - President George W. Bush signs the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, prohibiting gun manufacturers and dealers from being named in civil lawsuits in federal and state courts when crimes are committed involving their firearms.

2008 - In the District of Columbia v. Heller, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that Americans have a constitutional right to keep handguns and commonly used firearms in their homes for self-defense. The ruling struck down the District of Columbia's 32-year handgun ban as incompatible with gun rights under the Second Amendment.

People across partisan lines aren't satisfied with gun restrictions signed into law by Florida Gov. Rick Scott

By GARY FINEOUT AND KELLI KENNEDY

Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - The political and legal fallout from Florida Gov. Rick Scott's decision to sign a sweeping gun bill into law following a school massacre was nearly immediate as the National Rifle Association filed a lawsuit to stop it and political candidates in both parties criticized it.

Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, who's running for Florida governor as a champion of gun rights, went on Fox News late Friday night to criticize the law, which raises the minimum age to buy rifles from 18 to 21; extends a three-day waiting period for handgun purchases to include long guns; and bans bump stocks, which allow guns to mimic fully automatic fire.

"I think when you start getting into some of the blanket restrictions on people's Second Amendment rights, I think that that is constitutionally vulnerable. ... I mean think about it, you have an enumerated right in the Bill of Rights, there's really no precedent to just do a blanket ban on certain adults," DeSantis said on the show.

Grieving families and student survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, where a shooter killed 17 people last month, worked feverishly in recent weeks to lobby a gun-friendly, Republican-run state government. The new law fell short of achieving a ban on assault-style weapons, but it creates a so-called guardian program enabling some teachers and other school employees to carry guns.

Five legislators seeking statewide office voted against it, as did the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. GOP Attorney General Pam Bondi praised it, but other statewide candidates in the Legislature voted against it. Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam has expressed his displeasure with the age limits.

Scott, who's expected to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson this year, has said the legislation shows Florida can move quickly and "get things done," unlike the federal government. Scott has already blasted Nelson for failing to act on guns while he's been in Congress.

Democrats, meanwhile, were quick to fault Scott and legislators for failing to include a ban on some types of semi-automatic rifles such as the one used in the Parkland shootings.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum said that "Florida's elected officials simply have not done enough to stop our gun violence epidemic, and that remains true even with the Governor's signature today."

Miami Beach Mayor and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine said in a statement the law "falls short of the public demands set by the majority of Floridians and the student survivors" of the shooting. "We need to ban assault weapons, pass universal background checks, and we certainly don't need more guns in our schools."

Separately, the Trump administration on Saturday said it has taken the first step in the regulatory process to ban bump stocks.

The NRA contends the new law is unconstitutional because it raises the minimum age to buy rifles and puts a blanket ban on the fundamental rights of some law-abiding Florida citizens.

"The deranged murderer in Parkland, Florida, gave repeated warning signs that were ignored by federal and state officials. If we want to prevent future atrocities, we must look for solutions that keep guns out of the hands of those who are a danger to themselves or others, while protecting the rights of law-abiding Americans," said Chris W. Cox, executive director, National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action.

Retired prosecutor and Florida law professor Bob Dekle sees no legal issue with raising the rifle-purchase age to 21, saying, the framers of the Constitution intended for 21 to be "the age of being adult." He noted that the same age applies to drinking.

"This lawsuit I think is an example of bonkers," said Dekle, who plans to leave the NRA as soon as his membership expires. "The 21-year age limit just sounds reasonable to me."

Stoneman Douglas student Talia Rumsky, 16, called the law a positive change, but said there's "still a long way to go."

"As happy as I am that Governor Scott signed it, this cannot be the last preventative measure he helps pass ... My friends and I were upset to hear that the amendment to ban AR-15s for even just two years ... did not pass, especially since this weapon has been used in not just one, but several horrific mass shootings," she said in a text.

Students also criticized the provision allowing teachers to have guns on campus. The Broward County school superintendent has already said he doesn't want to participate in the program.

"You said you were against teachers being armed. We told you we were against it. So why didn't you stop that part," tweeted student Aly Sheehy Friday, referring to Scott. "Don't stand there and say you disagree with it when you hold the power to put an end to it."

Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old former student accused in the school massacre, faces 17 counts of murder and attempted murder. Cruz's public defender has said he will plead guilty if prosecutors take the death penalty off the table and sentence him to life in prison instead. Prosecutors have not announced a decision.

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