Florida Moves One Step Closer To Allowing Armed Teachers in School

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Florida Moves One Step Closer To Allowing Armed Teachers

The state of Florida has moved one step closer to allowing teachers to carry firearms at school. The proposed bill, which would make several changes to improve school safety, has been passed by the Senate and now heads to the House for approval where it’s expected to pass. Governor Ron DeSantis has already stated that if the bill reaches his desk he will sign it into law. While the bill features several changes to school policy, the one surrounding firearms is getting the most buzz.

If the bill becomes law, it would then be up to individual school districts to decide whether or not they want to allow teachers to carry firearms inside school. If a school district allows it, then any teacher who wants to carry a weapon would have to undergo a psychological evaluation and pass at least 144 hours of additional training. While some counties have already said they will support the law if it passes, others have said they will not.

The genesis of this bill was the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL last year that left 17 students and staff members dead. In the wake of the tragedy many around the country called for stricter gun control laws, but a similar groundswell of support grew to give teachers the right to arm themselves. One Florida Senator says he’s convinced that if teachers at the Parkland school had been armed, they would have been able to prevent at least some of the deaths that took place that day.

I must err on the side of saving a kid.”

-Florida State Senator Ed Hooper (R)-Clearwater

The decision wasn’t an easy one for many senators. Democrat Lauren Book from Plantation originally approved a report from the state commission that investigated the Parkland shooting. That report suggested that armed teachers could have stemmed the violence that happened that day. However, when it came time to vote on the bill this week, Book voted against it in what she called an “extremely painful” decision.

The bill has been strongly opposed by most Florida Democrats and gun control activists, including Fred Guttenberg whose daughter was killed in the Parkland shootings. He says that what happened to his daughter is a rare event and allowing more guns inside our schools won’t do anything to help the situation.

The idea that a teacher with a [presumably] locked weapon has the ability to react to somebody who walks in with an AR-15 is comical and moronic and dishonest. And it’s what senators voted for yesterday.”

-Fred Guttenberg, Father of Parkland shooting victim Jaime Guttenberg

Some opponents of the bill say bringing weapons into a school increases the risk of accidental injuries and could lead to even more confusion if another school shooting were to happen. Others say having a gun in the classroom could make students feel uncomfortable and could cause extreme tension in schools that have large-scale behavioral problems.

Then, there are the teachers themselves. Already viewed as overworked and underpaid, many say it’s unfair to put this on their plate as well. Both the National Educators Association and the American Federation of Teachers have come out against arming teachers, saying the risk of something going wrong far outweighs the possibility that an armed teacher could prevent or limit a tragedy

The bill contains other measures designed to improve school safety as well, including running risk-assessments for dangerous students and installing new guidelines based on a student’s mental health. It sits in the State House now which is expected to begin deliberations in the next couple of days.

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