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Lawmakers Considering Arming Teachers and Adding Warning Shots to Stand Your Ground

| March 3, 2013

Lesson One. (Thomas Levinson)

Lesson One. (Thomas Levinson)

The state’s self defense law would say people can fire warning shots to fend off attackers without fear of prosecution and teachers would be able to pack heat on campus under bills now before legislators.

Freshman Rep. Neil Combee, R-Polk City, filed a bill on the one year anniversary of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford that would make it clear that people who fire warning shots – or simply show their gun to scare away any would-be attacker but don’t actually shoot someone – could be protected from harsher penalties that they could otherwise face under criminal gun laws.

And on Wednesday, Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, offered a bill that asks for school principles to decide which teachers and staff can carry a concealed weapon while at work.

Steube said the chances of a student getting hold of a weapon are “minimized’ due to the bill’s requirement that anyone approved for concealed carry on campus must first undergo firearms training.

Also, “we’ve given a lot of flexibility to principles in the bill,” Steube said. “If they want to designate one (teacher), if they want to designate many they can. If want to require them to put (the gun) in a safe they can. It’s going to be completely up to the principle logistically how they want to implement the legislation.”

Steube’s measure (HB 1097) comes as some conservatives nationwide and in Florida have called for arming teachers and guards at schools in the wake of the December shooting in the Newtown, Conn. Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, is expected to file the Senate companion of the bill.

Steube said he’s received positive feedback from educators and school board members.

However, school administrators haven’t lined up behind the armed teachers plan.

“Our members are saying they would rather not have that, that they’d rather have other security measures put in place,” said Michele White, a spokeswoman for the Florida Association of School Administrators.

Other measures FASA may prefer range from increased preparedness drills to trained armed security, which Steube’s bill would require when armed educators aren’t designated.

“We’re trying to figure out what are the best ways for each district – because each school in each district is different – to secure their schools,” White said.

Combee’s bill (HB 1047), comes days after Gov. Rick Scott’s Task Force on Citizens Safety and Protection proposed only a few tweaks to the stand your ground law, including a need to redefine “unlawful activity,” increase education for law enforcement and review neighborhood watch guidelines.

Co-sponsor Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, the original sponsor in 2005 of the state’s “stand your ground” bill, and a member of the task force, said Combee’s bill is based upon a task force recommendation to clarify Florida’s 10-20-Life law regarding displaying a firearm.

“There is an edge there with the law if you fire a weapon or display a weapon, you could be charged with a felony,” Baxley said.

But self defense shouldn’t have to always require shooting someone, he said.

“In the country you used to fire a warning shot in the air to let people know to get off your property and you wanted them to leave.

“In a recent video, Vice President Joe Biden advocated that he told his wife Jill ‘Go out on the front porch if you’re nervous and shoot that double barreled shot gun.’ In Florida that would be a felony,” Baxley said.

The 10-20-Life law sets mandatory minimum sentences primarily in regard to firearm use during a felony. “Now you’re at risk of being charged if you display a firearm,” Baxley said.

Legislators have already started to discuss school safety measures, but not broader laws dealing with firearms.

Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, has filed a bill (SB 930) to require local law enforcement to set “reasonable” guidelines for neighborhood watch programs.

Sen. John Legg, R-Port Richey, chairman of the Senate Education Committee has been cool to the idea of arming teachers. And Scott has generally supported a review of Florida’s gun regulations and school security procedures in reaction to Newtown, but hasn’t made any proposals to change the law.

Still, both bills are considered to have a better chance of advancing in the Republican-dominated Legislature than a proposal by Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee, who has filed a bill, HB 4009, that would repeal the “stand your ground” self-defense law.

–Jim Turner, News Service of Florida

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13 Responses for “Lawmakers Considering Arming Teachers and Adding Warning Shots to Stand Your Ground”

  1. w.ryan says:

    Warning shot? Where will the bullet land? Scare off someone by brandishing a weapon? Isn’t menacing a crime? WT*?

  2. Steve says:

    Well if we can shoot warning shots then we are going to need more then a 7 round clip. At least make it a 10 round clip. How would our home owners insurance cover bullet hole marks in the roof ? Maybe I will pass on increasing my wind damage insurance and get bullet hole damage insurance .

  3. Yellowstone says:

    We are now wholesaling fear . . .

    Egad where we going now, back to the wild, wild west?

    Folks take a moment and think back when you were an impressionable student school. Remember the days when the school’s Dean walked the halls with that Intimidating looking pledge paddle in his back pocket? Remember the threats of of detention, suspension, staying after school, and the worst off all – Marianna’s State Reform School? Remember the fear?

    Today those threats are simply a way of life – not the threats they used to be. In fact we took some of those ‘tools’ away from educators because educators went a little too far in enforcing rules by acting as their own policeman, judge, jury, and punishment expert.

    In order to ante up we are proposing arming these same educators! But with bigger and badder tools!

    We now have those predictable shootouts in the WM parking lots. I ask all of you – Are you now ready for a shootout between your child and their educator? Perhaps an ‘accidental’ “I thought he had a gun. I felt my life was threatened”.

    I say we have enough loose cannons running around Palm Coast’s streets. Instead, let’s start by bringing civility back to this injuried society of our’s.

  4. Ruben says:

    Baxley has been watching too many G rated cowboy movies and not considered the ramifications of firing a
    Projectile at hundreds of feet per second towards an un intended target. Someone lasso this dude.

  5. Dennis says:

    Warning shots! Does Mr. Combee understand what goes up must come down. Good chance of hurting an innocent bystander and or property damage. Might want to rethink that one.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Zechariah 14:13 King James Version (KJV)

    And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the Lord shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour.

  7. Jack Howell says:

    What are they thinking? Typical bullshit, knee jerk reaction by our idiots in Tallahassee ! Arming teachers is insane and will be a nighmare at the tax payers expense. God only knows what legal issues will arise. Perhaps another “Stand Your Ground” folly. Remember,” the road to hell is paved by good intention”. The only winners I see are the attorneys!
    What needs to be done is a no nonsense security analysis, by professionals, of each school and recommendations implemented. The last thing I want to see is a classroom teacher armed. Some teachers can’t even manage/control their own classes.

    • Magnolia says:

      Good idea, Mr. Howell, as long as we don’t do what Palm Coast usually does and that is hire some outside source, spend about $500,000 for the study and then do nothing at all.

  8. RNYPD says:

    Yeah and the cops can teach Algebra, plumbers can teach economics, lawyers can be the sheriff, oh wait.

  9. Sherry Epley says:

    All good comments here. . . too bad the Florida legislature isn’t as reasonable and thoughtful!

    • Magnolia says:

      Sherry, that is because we are just citizens and not beholden to anybody like most elected officials are. Maybe we should just fire all of our elected officials and take responsibility for this, give the right to punish back to the teachers, the schools….bring back that paddle? It kept our generation in line.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Is it thgat the schools are “arming teachers”?? Or is it that those who have a legal right/permit to carry will be alowed too?? As for ~ people who fire warning shots – or simply show their gun to scare away any would-be attacker ~ being protected from harsher penalties I get the point on showing the gun to try and scare off a attacker BUT just shooting it thats a dumb idea.

  11. Sherry Epley says:

    What happens with the loaded gun that is found by a young child or teenager? What happens with the loaded gun that is taken from a teacher and used by the attacker?

    What happened to our freedoms of peace and tranquility?

    . The freedom to live in a culture that is not armed to the teeth
    . The freedom to let kids even ride their bikes or walk to school in complete safety
    . The freedom to live in a culture that does not celebrate violence at every turn
    . The freedom to live in a society that expects citizens to care for one another and do no harm

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