Florida teachers may soon be able to carry guns inside the classroom if they choose. Florida’s House of Representatives approved a controversial bill yesterday by a 65-47 vote. The Senate has already approved the bill and Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to sign it into law.
The bill is in response to the 2018 shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that left 17 people dead and another 17 injured.
Under the bill, all Florida teachers can take part in the voluntary guardian program which allows them to have a weapon with them while they teach should an emergency erupt. They must first pass a 144-hour training course, have a psychiatric evaluation and undergo drug screening.
Supporters of the bill say it’s a necessary move because when incidents such as school shootings happen, police often can’t get there in time.
Those opposed are worried about the presence of more guns and possible accidents happening with the guns inside the classroom, like teachers misfiring or police mistakenly thinking a teacher is a gunman. In a statement to Parentology, Superintendent, Broward County Public Schools Robert W. Runcie says, “The Broward County School Board voted on a resolution against arming teachers in March 2018. We do not believe arming teachers is the best way to make our schools safe.”
ABC News reports that in a letter this week, Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony expressed his opposition to arming teachers in schools to the local school board and superintendent.
A spokesman for the Speaker of the House tells Reuters that school employees in 40 of Florida’s 67 counties have either already enrolled in the training program or plan to take the course. Many counties have chosen not to take part in the guardian program. The program is strictly voluntary as teachers are not required to get the training or carry a weapon.
DW.Com — Florida Lawmakers Approve Arming Teachers with Guns in Classroom
Reuters — Florida’s Teachers Can Arm Themselves Under New Gun Bill
Superintendent, Broward County Public Schools Robert W. Runcie
ABC News — Florida Lawmakers Pass Bill Allowing More Armed Teachers