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Gun Bill Could Rekindle School Safety Debate

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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) - After the issue drew heavy debate during the 2014 legislative session, a House Republican is bringing back a proposal that could lead to some public-school employees or volunteers carrying guns on campus.

Sarasota Republican Greg Steube last week filed the proposal (HB 19) for consideration during the 2015 session.

Under the bill, a school superintendent, with the backing of the local school board, could authorize a "school safety designee" to carry a concealed weapon on school property. That designee could be an honorably discharged military veteran, an active-duty member of the military, National Guard or reserves or an active-duty of former law-enforcement officer.

The designee would also have to be licensed to carry a concealed weapon, complete a school-safety program and pass a background screening.

The bill says the Legislature would not mandate that schools have such designees but that it is "the intent of the Legislature to prevent violent crimes from occurring on school grounds. The Legislature acknowledges that the safekeeping of our students, teachers and campuses is imperative."

House members voted in April to support the 2014 version of the bill, but the proposal did not pass the Senate. Critics argued that the state should spend money to put more trained law-enforcement officers, known as school resource officers, on campuses instead of moving forward with the designee idea.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.


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