Florida teachers will be allowed to carry guns into classrooms after lawmakers pass controversial bill
Florida's House of Representatives voted to pass a bill Wednesday — after hours of emotional debate — allowing teachers to carry guns in the classrooms.
Now, the bill S.B. 7030 is headed to the desk of Republican Governor Ron DeSantis to be signed into law after it was approved 22-17 by the state Senate, HuffPost reports.
The legislation comes as part of the "Guardian program" created by lawmakers last year to address the deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
Participating school districts are allowed — under the voluntary program — to arm some school personnel to protect students.
Until now, guns have remained barred from classrooms as a conventional safety measure. However, that may soon change with the passage of this bill.
Teachers who volunteer to carry a gun on school premises will first need to undergo a thorough screening procedure and a comprehensive 144-hour training course, the bill states.
Speaking to Reuters, a spokesman for the Speaker of the House said that school employees in 40 out of 67 counties in Florida have already enrolled in the program or are planning to take the training.
That said, some school districts have decided not to participate in the expanded Guardian program.
In a conversation with the Miami Herald, the superintendent of the Miami-Dade County school district said that they will not give guns to teachers and instead plans to staff its schools with more armed officers.
The sentiment was echoed by the superintendent of the Broward County school district, of which Marjory Stoneman Douglas is a part. “We do not believe arming teachers is the best way to make our schools safe.” Superintendent Robert Runcie told the Herald.
Similarly, the head of the Florida Education Association, Fedrick Ingram, said that arming teachers was ultimately a "wrong decision" stemming from the "wrong conversation."
According to him, lawmakers should be thinking more on the lines of mental health issues. “Unfortunately, [lawmakers] have not asked teachers how to make these schools safer, because any teacher will tell you that we need to be talking about counseling and mental health issues,” Ingram told HuffPost in February. “Those are the things that will stop these issues before they happen.”
Having said that, one Parkland parent expressed strong support for the new bill.
Andrew Pollack's daughter Meadow was killed in the Parkland attack.
Last week, he tweeted that “When no one went in to save my daughter, a teacher could have.”