When Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation last week aimed at preventing future school shootings, much of the focus was on two gun control measures in the bill and a plan to arm certain school personnel.
An overlooked provision in the legislation deals with how law enforcement is able to respond to school shooting threats made on social media platforms.
The bill makes it clear that anyone who threatens to “conduct a mass shooting or act of terrorism, in any manner that would allow another person to view the threat” is guilty of a second-degree felony. That language stems from a statement posted online by a 16-year-old Sarasota High School student.
In 2014 the student wrote on Twitter “can’t wait to shoot up my school.”
Police found the student who made the threat at his home and took him into custody. But a judge subsequently ruled that there was no legal case against the student because his threat was a general statement that was not sent to any individuals.
The new law criminalizes general online threats related to mass shootings or acts of terrorism. A Sarasota judge suggested changing the law and Sarasota state Sen. Greg Steube filed legislation that subsequently was included in the bill lawmakers approved in response to the shooting last month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
Read more about the online threats law and the controversy surrounding the larger package of school safety and gun control proposals here.