Florida 'Guardian' Expansion Allowing Teachers To Be Armed Now In Governor's Hands
FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Several months ago the commission that investigated the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School recommended that teachers on school campuses be allowed to undergo voluntary and intensive training to carry guns on campus.
On Wednesday, Florida's House of Representatives made the Commission's vision a reality by passing a bill that would allow select teachers to be armed. Most Republicans supported the measure.
"There is no line where we are handing out guns to teachers that walk through a door," said Rep. Dane Eagle, District 77.
Most Democrats did not support it.
"It's inevitable that someone's going to make a mistake and lives will be lost," said Rep. Joe Geller, District 100.
In the wake of the shooting, Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow, was one of the MSD victims, became a vocal supporter of arming teachers who volunteer for the responsibility and are able to pass rigorous training.
"The society we live in there's sick, demented people walking the streets and we can't fix society but we owe it to our kids to protect them when they go to school," Pollack said.
However, Debbie Hixon, whose husband Chris was a campus monitor at MSD and was murdered at the school, is against the idea. She brings a wealth of experience to the issue having been a classroom teacher for more than 2 dozen years.
"More guns are not the answer," she said. "We should be looking at how we keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them and we should really be focused on how we keep the perimeter of the school safe."
The measure would allow school districts to opt-into the program and is not a requirement for teachers or districts. In South Florida, Broward county schools is against it and does not plan to opt-in.
"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," Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said in a statement.
Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said they also do not plan to implement the program.
"Introducing additional firearms into schools will not provide additional security," Carvalho said. "Therefore it is our decision not to opt in to the expanded guardian program."
Carvalho believes school safety is best left to trained law enforcement and security personnel. After the MSD shooting the state created the Aaron Feis Armed Guardian Program, allowing some school employees other than teachers to carry guns.
But Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony does not think classroom teachers should be armed.
In a statement Tony said, "Having untrained personnel carrying firearms is more likely to create a tragic scenario where innocent people can get injured or killed. Additionally, having more firearms in an active shooter situation would make it more difficult for police officers to identify the shooter and respond accordingly."
Polling shows that a majority of Floridians think it's a bad idea to introduce more guns into schools, amid the many things that could go wrong like an accidental discharge or a student overpowering a teacher with a gun. The measure already passed the Florida Senate and will now head to Governor Ron DeSantis for his signature. In the past, DeSantis has expressed supported for the idea of training voluntary teachers who pass the necessary screening and testing to carry a gun on campus.
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