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Public records exemption approved from ‘mass violence'

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A little more than a year after the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, the Florida Senate on Wednesday passed a bill that would shield from disclosure photos and recordings that depict the killing of victims of “mass violence.”

Senators voted 40-0 to approve the bill (SB 186), sponsored by Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa.

The bill defines a “mass violence” event as involving the deaths of three or more people, not including perpetrators.

It would create a public-records exemption for photos, video and audio recordings in such situations.

“There are a lot of people who are appalled at the attempts by a lot of people to get access to this information to use it for commercial purposes or for nefarious purposes, and the impact it has on victims,” Lee said.

The bill cites the mass shooting in February 2018 that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and mass shootings in recent years at Pulse nightclub in Orlando and at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

A similar House bill (HB 7017), sponsored by Rep. James Grant, R-Tampa, and Rep. Kamia Brown, D-Ocoee, has cleared committees and is available to be considered by the full House.