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Lawmakers Craft Law Allowing Teachers To Carry Guns In Florida Schools

| February 23, 2018

Students voicing their positions on guns in Tallahassee this week. (News Service of Florida)

Students voicing their positions on guns in Tallahassee this week. (News Service of Florida)

Hurriedly crafted state legislation to address last week’s mass shooting at a Parkland high school will include a controversial element that would allow teachers who’ve undergone special training to bring guns to schools, a concept that has divided Republican politicians and faces opposition from Democrats and educators.


Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron are both floating the idea, which President Donald Trump on Thursday said he endorsed. The House and Senate, along with Gov. Rick Scott, are expected to roll out their proposals Friday.

During a school safety summit at the White House, Trump said he wants something akin to a concealed weapons license for teachers to allow “certain highly adept people” who “understand weaponry, guns” to be able to carry firearms at schools.

State lawmakers are scrambling to propose broad packages focused on mental health and guns, following the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that left 14 students and three faculty members dead.

On Thursday, Trump also tossed out the idea of a “little bit of a bonus” for teachers who have a concealed-carry license, according to a pool media report of the event, attended by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.

“You can’t hire enough security guards. … But you could have concealed on the teachers,” he said.

But at a CNN town hall meeting Wednesday night in Broward County, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., told an audience of teachers, students and parents affiliated with Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School he thought arming educators was a bad idea.

“I don’t support that,” Rubio said.

Republican leaders in the state House and Senate on Thursday said their plans would go farther than a simple concealed weapons license for educators.

Teachers, administrators or other school personnel would have to participate in 132 hours of training, undergo mental-health screenings and be authorized by local sheriffs to serve as what would essentially be a school “marshal,” Sen. Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican taking the lead on crafting the Senate measure, told The News Service of Florida.

“What we’re talking about is a program specifically designed and conducted through the sheriff’s office,” said Galvano, who is slated to take over as Senate president after the November elections.

The armed personnel would serve as supplements to school resource officers, Galvano said, and would operate under the auspices of the sheriff’s office.

“And their actions are going to be owned by that sheriff’s office. It’s not the bill that says. ‘let a teacher with a (concealed weapons) permit bring that gun to school.’ That’s a lot looser, and I don’t support that,” he said.

The proposal is based on a program initiated by Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd that enables authorized and trained employees at the private Southeastern University in Lakeland to carry concealed firearms to respond to assailants on campus as a last step.

House Rules & Policy Chairman Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, told the News Service his chamber’s plan also will include a similar element.

“It isn’t nearly as ominous as it sounds. It is a tremendous deterrent for someone to go into a school knowing people are armed and they don’t know who is armed,” Oliva said, adding that the measure would require “extensive training” and “all sorts of screening.”

But U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who made the rounds in the state Capitol on Thursday after appearing at the town hall Wednesday with Rubio and Democratic Congressman Ted Deutch, said allowing guns in schools is a terrible idea.

“When a killer comes in with an assault rifle, that is not a fair fight. That is not a fair firefight from a pistol to a semi-automatic assault rifle,” Nelson, a Democrat who could face a re-election challenge from Scott this year, told reporters Thursday.

During Wednesday’s town hall meeting, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High teacher Ashley Kurth, who sheltered dozens of students during last week’s attack and is a gun owner, raised a number of concerns about the prospect, including the possibility of law enforcement confusing armed teachers with shooters.

The Florida Education Association teachers union also objects to the prospect, saying in a statement that it is committed to legislation that “ensures student safety and limits firearms on school campuses to highly trained professional law enforcement personnel.”

That doesn’t include deputized teachers, FEA spokeswoman Sharon Nesvig said in an email.

“More guns on campus will create more problems,” she said.

Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, also said he doesn’t want armed teachers at schools.

“I’m OK with using retired law enforcement or retired military, obviously with the right training and credentials, to make sure we secure our schools. But having our teachers to be armed, I don’t think that’s the right approach,” Garcia said in an interview.

Last week’s shooting has reopened the already highly charged debate over gun control, with students, parents and teachers from the Broward County high school demanding action. More than 100 students from the school visited the Capitol on Wednesday, meeting with Scott, Negron, Corcoran and dozens of lawmakers and holding a rally in which they pleaded for legislation that would make them feel safe again.

Nineteen-year-old gunman Nikolas Cruz, who has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder in the deaths, used an assault-style gun to shoot down students and faculty at the school, which he had attended in the past.

The fact that Cruz, who had a lengthy history of documented mental-health issues, was able at age 18 to legally purchase a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle to commit the murders — with no waiting period — has prompted survivors of the shooting, and their parents, to push lawmakers to ban assault weapons.

In Florida instead, lawmakers are focused on potentially raising the age to 21 and imposing a waiting period for the purchase of long guns. That would be similar to requirements for handguns.

The Republican-dominated Legislature has usually been aligned with the National Rifle Association on gun laws, but it could part ways with the gun-rights organization on the age limits, if the proposal ultimately passes.

“Passing a law that makes it illegal for a 20-year-old to purchase a shotgun for hunting or an adult single mother from purchasing the most effective self-defense rifle on the market punishes law-abiding citizens for the evil acts of criminals,” NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said in a statement Thursday.

Galvano said raising the age limit will be included in the Senate plan.

Packages now in development by the House, Senate and Scott are also likely to focus on early screening for mental health problems, increased funding for mental health services and better coordination between law enforcement, schools and mental health providers.

State officials also are exploring ways to keep guns away from people who have demonstrated they are dangerous to themselves or others. The Senate measure, for example, will include enhanced background screening for gun purchases, according to Galvano.

Nelson told Senate Democrats on Thursday to “get what they can get” as they continue to push for stricter gun laws.

But state Senate Minority Leader Oscar Braynon said the gun-related elements don’t go far enough.

“It’s such a big issue for us, and it has been for so many years,” Braynon, D-Miami Gardens, said. “It’s a little frustrating that I’m expected to give credit to Republican leadership for coming half, not even halfway, on an issue that we’ve been saying is a problem, for decades.”

–Dara Kam, News Service of Florida

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36 Responses for “Lawmakers Craft Law Allowing Teachers To Carry Guns In Florida Schools”

  1. Dave says:

    Guns do not make heroes, jus because you have a hand gun does not mean you will face down an attacker with an assault riffle. Trained police do not even have shoot outs 1 on 1 with an attacker that has a riffle without waiting for back up

  2. Zacharie says:

    This is absurd.

  3. TSA Agent says:

    I guess metal detectors are too expensive.

  4. AL says:

    A surviving student who was wearing the same colored clothing as the killer, and hiding alone in a sound room was grabbed by SWAT, thrown to the ground, arrested and tossed into a patrol car. Would an armed teacher have killed him? Would SWAT, not knowing that the armed and shooting teacher was not the suspect, kill the teacher or waste precious minutes ascertaining his identity.? Using a side arm against an automatic long gun is like using a taser against a firing sidearm, useless. The only reasons the lawmakers are crafting this bill is because it is approved by the NRA and because these lawmakers think they can make us believe that they did something. Too bad their solution might be prove to be worse than the problem and just the action of frightened politicians who fear their defeat this year.

  5. mark101 says:

    Why not just stop a shooter, or someone carrying a knife before they get into the schools. Simple, you enter a room, the door locks behind you, you walk through a metal detector , if the detector goes off you are stuck in the room waiting for police to arrive. IF you pass, you exit the room once the system unlocks the door into the school hallway.

  6. Layla says:

    I’m calling BS on these students. And the way I heard this was that districts will decide for themselves. Call me crazy but I think we had better schools when they weren’t run by the students.

  7. Mothersworry says:

    Are these people out of their minds?? Have they no clue what a bullet does? Yet, they want to have a fire fight in close proximity to children. Have they not heard of the term over penetration?

    I guess none of them have been in combat. I have witnessed well trained soldiers freeze in the face of hostile fire and be killed. These soldiers went through months of training, some live fire, yet they froze! Now you want to give a weapon to a “trained teacher”?? Sure put the teacher on the range, teach her to shoot accurately, that’s doable. Now real world, a bullet slams into and removes half of the head of the 10 year old she was just talking to. That is the first of the 30+ bullets the shooter may fire into the classroom and she’s trying to unlock her gun because it must be in a secure place. That’s if she doesn’t freeze and immediately go into shock due to the carnage she just witnessed. The LEO at Parkland an experienced officer apparently froze.
    Folks this is not a video game, having a firefight in school hallways and classrooms is NOT the answer.

  8. Laura Howell says:

    Let’s see … We would need mental health testing and drug testing for the gun licensed teachers (some teachers use drugs). We would need arbitration set up in every school because what teacher is going to argue with a teacher carrying a gun. And we would have to hire extra counselors to deal with the horror of children, especially children of color, being killed by their own teachers. Because that is going to happen if teachers have guns.
    Gun control laws work. They have worked for every other developed country in the world. Florida can be a leader now for shooting death reduction or they can go the NRA way and increase the gun culture in Florida.

  9. Dave says:

    GUNS DONT MAKE HEROES

  10. gmath55 says:

    The schools that have armed teachers with warnings signs outside have had how many mass shootings? I’m waiting?

  11. Kevin says:

    The NRA solution to the problem of weak or virtually non-existent background checks; their promotion of allowing military weaponry in the home and their defense of unlimited magazines is to now promote the insane (and self-serving) solution of arming teachers in the classroom to be a line of defense against a school attack. This ridiculous idea is easily shot full of holes (pun intended) when one considers the following risks:
    1. How many casualties would there be from friendly fire? Imagine the exchange of gun fire in a school hallway when hundreds of children were responding to the fire alarm and instead encountered bullets flying in all directions from friend and foe? 2. How many gun carrying teachers could be overpowered by an angry student who disarms the teacher and is now an armed risk in the classroom? 3. What chance does a teacher no matter how “adept” as the president says with a hand gun stand a chance against the high velocity military assault weapon.
    Finally, even if we suspend reality and consider for a moment that arming teachers discouraged the assault weapon armed murder from entering the school then what? When the school bell rings and the students are leaving the building for their buses or to walk home, how do we stop the AK-47 armed NRA protected murderer from unleashing his barrage from a car parked outside? How do we keep him from entering a school bus and killing 45 passengers? The NRA would suggest arming the bus driver, that will provide a warm and fuzzy sense of safety, right? How do we defend the or, the playground? Perhaps the NRA will suggest building turrets armed with sharpshooters. Yes, that’s the NRA solution, make America an armed camp, Fort Apache, what a well thought out solution to the problem. No my fellow citizens, consider the quaint time in which the founding fathers drafted the second amendment. Flint locks and muzzle loaded rifles were what they thought the citizenry should possess as a well armed militia to prevent another tyrannical government from suppressing them. Instead, the tyrannical NRA proposes suppressing all our other freedoms by hardening our schools and our school buses and any other public space because they have twisted the intent of the founding fathers into an extreme and ridiculous 21st century interpretation of the second amendment to allow battlefield armaments in every bedroom in America. Why stop with AK-47’s? Why shouldn’t the public be allowed to have shoulder held surface to air missile launchers; grenades; tactical nuclear weapons? Their illogical reasoning has no limit to what should be allowed, as ridiculous as that argument is, their argument in support of allowing assault weapons is just as stupid.
    The NRA should be prosecuted under the RICO laws for how they operate. They allegedly funneled millions of dollars from the Russian government to the effort to elect Trump the Putin puppet. Good luck to a Russian who wants to possess a gun in that country, yet the NRA gladly took the communist cash. They don’t care about America, they care about the money.

  12. Rhonda says:

    Hope there is a massive turnout by voters during the next elections. Let our voices be heard.

  13. knightwatch says:

    Layla, pretty typical Republican response to a tragedy. Blame the victim. Unless the victim is a fellow Republican, then blame the liberal press or Hillary, or Real President Obama, or any institution of government.

  14. Shark says:

    Who – in their right mind would go up against an AR15 with a handgun ????

  15. Stranger in a strange land says:

    The armed and trained deputy failing to enter the school building shows “the good guy with a gun theory” cannot be depended on. If an individual is under personal attack he will probably respond (but also probably not fast enough if it is against an automatic weapon). However, to expect someone who is safe (like the deputy) to move towards danger and put themselves at risk of death is something that cannot be trained. We are astounded by heroism because it is rare. A quality that cannot be counted on. Rather than reinventing the wheel, why are we not looking at what is different about other countries that don’t experience mass shootings? It is probably a combination of sensible gun laws, better mental health resources, and a respect for fellow citizens rather than the demonization politicians and the media promote. In war, it is the dehumanization of the enemy that makes taking the enemy’s life acceptable.

  16. YankeeExPat says:

    Who will the Liability rest upon if there is an accidental shooting of an innocent bystander student, and what previous training (crisis management, prior military or police) will constitute relevant authority? Any Shmuck with $102.00 can get a Concealed Weapon License (go to a gun show), and as to those with prior military/ police experience, will those individuals current mental capacity be researched and reviewed or will they just get a pass?

  17. MannyHM says:

    Requiring directly or ‘indirectly’ a reluctant teacher to be trained and armed may not be the way to go. I am more for a level headed highly selected student with a good record to be secretly solicited for this role. Train and arm him or her. Let us not forget that there are young teens in the South bagging wild boars without any problem. There is not much difference between a 15, 16, or 17 teens and an 18 year old drafted to war. The key is calmness that comes after training and respect for the weapon.
    I wrote this with a certain reluctance but I don’t know of a better solution.
    Limitations on suggested ideas
    Armed guards: quite limited in numbers hence immediate presence and confrontation not really possible
    Armed teachers: limited pool to select from; from surveys, many teachers don’t want to handle guns. A good first step but not comprehensive enough.

  18. anonymous says:

    Read this article by a veteran of the Middle East wars to see how dumb it would be to arm teachers… Note how the armed police officer patrolling that school refused to enter to go after Cruz – he was afraid – after training for years and that being what he was trained for exactly. Now how do you think teachers might react?

    “When I saw the news flash of another school shooting I couldn’t help but think of the firefights I had been involved in and how these students and teachers just encountered their own version of Afghanistan.

    Make no mistake, the fear and chaos they faced is no different than what my fellow soldiers and I faced in Afghanistan—a fear and chaos that I still remember like it happened yesterday.” https://www.charlottefive.com/arming-teachers/

  19. anonymous says:

    Kevin, you are EXACTLY right.

  20. Anonymous says:

    When airline pilots were armed and sky marshals were added to flights, and better screening of passengers after 911 took place, the incidents of highjacking and terrorism have all but stopped. To stop the wolves from killing the sheep, the Shepard doesn’t pull the guard dogs teeth, he gets more dogs with sharper teeth. I’m sorry, but that’s the world we must live in for now anyway. Arm the teachers, get more security screening, add more real cops to guard the schools, not just a cop waiting on his retirement. Freedom and saftey from tyranny and terrorism must and can only be stopped by our willingness to fight back to protect our children and our nation. Put a gun in the hands of teachers having to witness their students being slaughtered, and the shooter will be stopped and fewer innocents will die. Learn from the Israelies.

  21. MannyHM says:

    Would a mandated searching each other backpack or bag be a good idea ? Just wondering…

  22. Pogo says:

    @Lawmakers Craft Law

    Wake up. Humps like tricky ricky and the NRA’s undertaker in the state senate don’t craft anything – they deliver what they’re given by the NRA:

    The N.R.A. Lobbyist Behind Florida’s Pro-Gun Policies

    Marion Hammer’s unique influence over legislators has produced laws that dramatically alter long-held American norms.

    By Mike Spies
    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/03/05/the-nra-lobbyist-behind-floridas-pro-gun-policies

    Is your house on fire? Add fuel. Addicted to drugs? Buy more. Good God – how stupid do you have to be to not understand that the NRA offers no solution to anything. The NRA sells guns. Period.

  23. Dave says:

    Anonymous, we are intelligent foward thinking humans, not sheep, not wolves, jus people

  24. Rhonda says:

    Everyone should read this link provided by Pogo, above. Many of our legislators are puppets. They need to be voted out of office.

    Who can point me to a list of our legislators and how much they are supported by various interest groups?
    Would love to know for Steube, La Rosa, and our own Hutson and Renner. Guns, Airbnb, Homeaway, etc.

    A place where it’s plainly stated, and not hidden in PACs, etc.

    Anyone able to help me?

  25. Anonymous says:

    We hear regularly at the nut job teachers in our schools and now we are going to allow them to carry weapons??? We don’t need guns in schools……we need resource officers who don’t run and hide in the bushes. http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?mode=View%20Statutes&SubMenu=1&App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=gun+purchase&URL=0700-0799/0790/Sections/0790.25.html

  26. Pogo says:

    @Anonymous

    Anonymous says, “…We don’t need guns in schools…”

    Amen.

    Anonymous says, “…we need resource officers who don’t run and hide in the bushes…”

    This is a pretty point indeed. It immediately reminds me of someone in particular who has shot off his mouth loudly on the subject – someone who has spent his adult life protected by armed guards as he strutted around offering to hold others’ coats in a fight:

    Donald Trump’s Draft Deferments
    https://www.snopes.com/2016/08/02/donald-trumps-draft-deferments/

    His country: Shots fired, mass casualties – all available units respond.

    Deputy trump: I’m 10-7, these bone spurs are killing me. That I can tell you.

  27. Pogo says:

    @Rhonda

    The paint job on a NASCAR race car could be our inspiration. The politicians could wear their sponsors on smocks like the WalMart greeter for fat cats that they are.

    Rhonda said:

    “…Who can point me to a list of our legislators and how much they are supported by various interest groups?
    Would love to know for Steube, La Rosa, and our own Hutson and Renner. Guns, Airbnb, Homeaway, etc.

    A place where it’s plainly stated, and not hidden in PACs, etc.

    Anyone able to help me?”

    It is knowable, but it’s hard work: The money is like an iceberg, mostly out of sight and difficult to know its origin. And an army is employed making it that way, and keeping it that way. Try this:
    https://www.google.com/search?q=how+to+follow+the+money&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8

  28. Anonymous says:

    Teachers need mental evaluations before being armed look at how many themselves take advantage and abuse their positions by taking advantage of students…turn on your evening news. I can already see the next headline “teacher holds student at gun point for sex”. Teachers need to teach, not play cops. This is insane. Fix the mental health of the country….there is no where for these deranged people to go for help. Teachers label students, prohibit them from carrying back packs etc and then wonder why they grow up angry not respecting authority and return to the place they hate that humiliated them with weapons. To fix the problem you have to understand the problem. Guns are not the problem or solution. Even if teachers were armed and one arrives with an automatic weapon it’s a slaughter….that’s like taking a knife to a gun fight. How many kids are in our schools self medicating themselves??? The solution by teachers for years is put your kid on Medication—like Ridalin. The only teacher in Flagler County that I have seen try to help, understand and realize that all kids are not alike is Carla Taylor. She dealt with each kid in a unique way without humiliating them and could get a student to do anything. She didn’t create angry adults but there are plenty of teachers in the School system that are guilty of doing do. Go look in the mirror parents, teachers, friends and neighbors. You don’t need a gun, you need understanding, compassion and love.

  29. Chris A Pickett says:

    As a RETIRED SOLDIER, who served with 3rd Bat 7th SFG(A), I know MANY people who had to fall back on their sidearm(handgun for you civis), against guys with AK”S firing full auto AND RPG’s. Perhaps it is time to make school resource officers prior SWAT detail. I mean if the people there that are SUPPOSED to be able to act are simply cowards, there is NO solution. And for the record, it takes a special type of person to go into danger, KNOWING it may be you last day on earth. BUT if you are supposed to be protecting those who cannot defend themselves, then YOU should have already resigned yourself to that kind of situation. ANd then to allow a COWARD who FAILED to do HIS job retirement benefits, that is simply absurd,

  30. Chris A Pickett says:

    And there was NO automatic weapons fired at this school.

  31. MannyHMo says:

    Indeed, a lot of folks should take some time and effort to differentiate between the legally available semi-automatic AR-15 assault lookalike and the real military fully automatic assault AR-15. A special permit is granted by ATF in obtaining fully automatic guns in rare cases. A Glock pistol can fire at the same rate as a semi-automatic AR-15 ! The truth has to be told and explained on the AR-15.

  32. Chris A Pickett says:

    And if a teacher is willing to stand in front students and take a bullet to protect them, isn’t that teacher better prepared if they have something to keep from getting shot in the first place……….Bravery is bravery and if you are willing to give your life for others, why not do it standing on your feet, with a means to STOP the incident, not simply be a target….

  33. Pogo says:

    @ALL CAPS SHOUTERS

    If you must shout, at least tell the truth. Surely a vet knows the different missions performed by the weapons employed by military and police. Sidearms are intended to decisively stop a threat without, as much as is possible, doing harm to others. Battlefield rifles are intended for battlefields. The surgeons confronted by the NRA’s horror shows know the difference very well:

    What I Saw Treating the Victims From Parkland Should Change the Debate on Guns

    They weren’t the first mass-shooting victims the Florida radiologist saw—but their wounds were radically different.

    “…I was looking at a CT scan of one of the mass-shooting victims from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who had been brought to the trauma center during my call shift. The organ looked like an overripe melon smashed by a sledgehammer, and was bleeding extensively. How could a gunshot wound have caused this much damage?

    The reaction in the emergency room was the same. One of the trauma surgeons opened a young victim in the operating room, and found only shreds of the organ that had been hit by a bullet from an AR-15, a semiautomatic rifle that delivers a devastatingly lethal, high-velocity bullet to the victim. Nothing was left to repair—and utterly, devastatingly, nothing could be done to fix the problem. The injury was fatal.

    A year ago, when a gunman opened fire at the Fort Lauderdale airport with a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun, hitting 11 people in 90 seconds, I was also on call. It was not until I had diagnosed the third of the six victims who were transported to the trauma center that I realized something out of the ordinary must have happened. The gunshot wounds were the same low-velocity handgun injuries that I diagnose every day; only their rapid succession set them apart. And all six of the victims who arrived at the hospital that day survived…”
    https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/02/what-i-saw-treating-the-victims-from-parkland-should-change-the-debate-on-guns/553937/

  34. Chris A Pickett says:

    And if I hit a crowd at 50 MPH in a car what happens then…………….yeah. Pretty severe injuries and DEATH.

  35. YankeeExPat says:

    As to follow up to my previous posting on Feb 24, 2018

    “you reap what you sow” !

    fox43.com/2018/02/28/georgia-teacher-arrested-on.

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