Rep. Linda Stewart files legislation to direct gun taxes to school safety efforts in Florida.
Tallahassee, Florida - The Newtown tragedy is prompting a Florida lawmaker to push legislation that would set aside taxes on guns and ammunition for school safety programs.
Rep. Linda Stewart wants most of that cash to be used for mental health counseling for young students - kindergarten to 5th grade.
Her bill would set up a "Safe Schools Trust Fund" that would collect all of the existing sales tax generated by the sale of guns and ammo.
Stewart says some schools are identifying troubled, young students, who need counseling.
"They have identified first and second graders with major issues that need treatment and the teacher is not always qualified to know what the bottom line is for each student, but they can sometimes identify some that need to be counseled, that need to be tested."
Getting mental health assistance for these young children, she believes, would help prevent tragedies later.
"If you can find that child early enough and get him to a person that has knowledge and is trained, I think then they can work with their families and try to resolve some of these issues early on."
Rep. Stewart says she talked with law enforcement and school leaders after the Newtown tragedy and decided to file legislation focusing on the mental health needs of younger students, although her bill would also allow money to be spent on other school safety needs.
Stewart says the Newtown tragedy has prompted plenty of focus on gun control, so she wants her legislation to address mental health issues.
"You hear a lot about gun control and what needs to be done and things like that, but in my estimation what needs to be done, because we're not going to solve every problem that exists out there, but we absolutely feel it's a good bill, that we need to get to these children earlier, in an earlier stage of acting out."
Stewart says most middle and high schools have counselors to talk with students, but grade schools do not.
First Coast News