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Florida's Legislature Is Considering New Gun Regulations Following School Shooting


In Florida, students are meeting with state legislators. One of those is Florida State Senator Bill Galvano. He's a Republican from outside Tampa, and he'll be the next president of the state Senate. This morning, he met with a group of Marjory Stoneman Douglas students. And he has also helped draft a package of legislation to address some of their demands. His proposals include raising the age for some gun purchases, adding waiting periods and giving more money to school safety and mental health screening, among other things.

Bill Galvano, thank you for joining us.

BILL GALVANO: Thank you for having me.

SHAPIRO: I understand you got back from Parkland late last night.

GALVANO: Yes, I did. I was actually there last week as well visiting the site and meeting with law enforcement and attending the vigil yesterday. I was there at the funeral for Peter Wang.

SHAPIRO: And what did you hear from the students who you met with this morning?

GALVANO: Well, it actually was a very positive, a very productive conversation. You know, it takes a lot of courage for these students in such close proximity in time - I mean, we're literally just about a week out from the tragedy - to make the journey to Tallahassee and to have the determination to want to make something good come of this and to make a difference. And a lot of it was to share the impact that it had on them personally.

But we did hear questions about mental health, and how could someone like this have a firearm? The specific question was asked about the age requirements for purchase of this type of assault rifle. And so there were a lot of different issues that were brought to the forefront and a lot that I hope that we will be able to put forward as a package legislatively.

SHAPIRO: These students have clearly changed the debate in Tallahassee. Do you think they will change the outcome? Speaking as a Republican who is a leader in the state Senate, do you think the result will be different from what we've seen in previous mass shootings?

GALVANO: I think the result will be quite different. I think the comprehensive way that we are dealing with this issue are more serious and more aggressive than I have seen in the past. This is a time when we are stopping, catching our breath, listening to these young people and their families and becoming more determined to pass a comprehensive package.

SHAPIRO: The image last night was shared widely of students crying as they watched state legislators failing to pass a bill that would ban certain types of weapons. Which of these six proposals that you put forward do you think actually has the best chance of getting through?

GALVANO: That scenario was unfortunate. The vote that, as I understand that, actually took place in the House was a procedural vote. But having said that, you know, I'm focused on what we can actually get done that will be meaningful and be really unprecedented for the Florida state Legislature. And I do have confidence that we'll be able to increase the age, that we will be able to apply a wait period for the purchase of assault rifles.

All of these things are part of the discussion. And I say discussion loosely because we're really making more progress than just discussing it. We have staff right now filling in details and getting to a point where we can shore them up. And I'd love to see and I believe we will see a meaningful package released probably by the end of this week.

SHAPIRO: What have you heard from the NRA about whether they will support, oppose or not take a position on these proposals? And if they oppose some of them, do you see lawmakers voting for them in spite of that?

GALVANO: I am sure there will be some opposition to some of these measures that we have discussed. The official position at this point is that they will wait to see the bill. But, you know, this is far beyond any one interest group or another. And I have confidence that my colleagues are going to focus on the victims, to honor the victims and to protect our children now and in the future. And I don't think it's going to make a difference.

If we have a meaningful package that makes sense and will save lives, then we'll have the votes.

SHAPIRO: There have been a lot of measures proposed in reaction to a lot of mass shootings in states around the U.S. Many of them failed to pass. If these proposals fail to pass, how significant a setback will that be in your view?

GALVANO: If they were to fail to pass, then I believe we will have failed on the most important issue of the 2018 legislative session in Florida. And that is why we are going to put every bit of our bandwidth into making sure we do have a meaningful package that passes and goes to the governor and becomes law.

SHAPIRO: Florida state Senator Bill Galvano, thanks very much for speaking with us today.

GALVANO: It's my pleasure, thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.