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New Bill Would Exempt Recordings of Mass Shootings from Public Records

February 21st, 2019 by Mike Vasilinda

Balancing the rights of victims and their families involved in mass shootings and the public’s right to know proved a difficult task for lawmakers Thursday afternoon in the state Capitol.

Photos, video, and audio leading up to, during, or after a mass killing of three or more would be exempt from public records under new legislation.

“First of all, the potential commercialization of it getting into the wrong hands, but there is also some concern about this video and photographic evidence being used to train people to do similar acts,” said Senator Tom Lee.

The Southern Poverty Law says four words in the bill, all acts or events, would have kept video of cops hiding, not engaging, at Parkland from public view.

“It might show the perpetrator entering and how they got in. It might show the footage afterwards which would show how he or she got out. It shows what law enforcement response was,” said Scott McCoy with the SPLC.

“It was the ability to access those records, and then the reporting on them, that made a difference,” said Barbara Petersen with the First Amendment Foundation.

As it’s written, the legislation wouldn’t protect the victims from a shooting at a yoga studio in the State’s Capital City, because only two died.

“I say why not two? Why not one? My State Attorney in Jacksonville has brought a case where there’s this one person that was killed and bad people want pictures of a little girl who was murdered. And that’s wrong,” said Senator Aaron Bean.

So far, compromise has proved elusive, yet both sides say they are sympathetic to the other.

The legislation does allow a court to order records be made public, but in the Parkland case, media outlets spent a hundred thousand dollars in legal fees, something experts say could not be sustained for multiple cases.

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