Joe Henderson: Arming schoolteachers is terrible idea but will lawmakers listen?
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One Year Anniversary Of Deadly Shooting At Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School In Parkland, Florida
We see this GOP reaction about guns every time, though.

Arming some public-school teachers is a horrible solution to a serious problem, but when has that ever stopped the Florida Legislature?

Once they are fixated on an idea, they never let it go.

The lawmakers’ insatiable lust to introduce guns into public schools is like a virus for which there is no antidote. We see the latest example of their insidious love for high-powered weaponry playing out now in Tallahassee.

Two bills with similar intent are winding through the House and Senate. They will almost certainly pass, and Gov. Ron DeSantis has already signaled his support to sign it into law.

“If you’re somebody who’s working at a school and you’re somebody who’s trained and who has the ability to do it then you shouldn’t be precluded from carrying a firearm that could potentially deter people,” DeSantis said recently.

Look at that statement again.

IF you’re at the school, and IF you are trained, you could POTENTIALLY deter a shooter with bad intent.

Or, you could turn a tense situation worse and kill or maim innocent victims. That is the more likely scenario.

Republicans say they would leave it up to school districts to decide if they want to allow teachers to carry guns. They want to give the option.

It’s still a horrible idea.

“I have hundreds and hundreds of emails and phone calls from parents and teachers and instructional resource folks that don’t want teachers to be armed. Who are we listening to?” said state Sen. Janet Cruz, a Tampa Democrat.

They’re listening to their own echo chamber that keeps repeating arming schoolteachers is the answer.

A Florida Atlantic University poll in February showed 51 percent of voters oppose allowing teachers to carry weapons on campus, while 37 percent approve. Other polls have shown residents want stricter gun laws, particularly for weapons like the one used last year in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School slaughter.

Florida Republicans ignore things like that. The easy answer is that many of them are in the pocket of the National Rifle Association. I think it goes deeper than that though.

Supporters of laws like the ones proposed believe it will help stop the next Stoneman Douglas massacre.

They make many assumptions though. I guess that’s because many of them haven’t been in a public high school for anything more than a Career Day since they graduated.

A large school like Stoneman Douglas has a lot of stuff going on all the time. During lunchtime or changing classes, it can be loud and chaotic. In some schools, fights can break out in the cafeteria. Students get sassy with teachers and each other.

That creates stress that most of us can’t imagine. It’s nonstop from the first bell to dismissal.

Now, introduce the unthinkable into the mix.

The Republican ideal is that the teacher will quickly size up the situation and take out the perpetrator before blowing the smoke from his or her gun barrel.


Or, more likely, the teacher will fumble for the weapon and fire at the first thing that moves.

Better hope it’s not a student or another teacher.

We see this GOP reaction about guns every time, though.

Opponents warned that enacting a “Stand Your Ground” law could cause more problems than it solved. It passed anyway.

Since then, there have been numerous examples of situations that could have ended with no violence turning deadly instead because a shooter claimed to be afraid for their life.

Lawmakers shrug that off and keep looking for the next place to introduce guns. Florida schools must have armed security in the wake of the Parkland disaster. That isn’t good enough.

They want more, more, more guns.

That’s how we got the brilliant idea of arming schoolteachers.

Will they learn that when guns are the problem, adding more of them makes it worse?

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


  • Gary

    March 27, 2019 at 9:23 pm

    Why shouldn’t a licensed holding trained teacher have a gun? Don’t like a fair fight?

  • Rich Nascak

    March 27, 2019 at 10:15 pm

    Joe, you entire argument is based on hypotheticals wothout a scintilla of evidence. Ten states have legally armed teachers/staff on school campuses, and none of the horribles you posit has occurred. Know what else hasn’t occurred? No attack has occurred on any of those schools.

  • Peter

    March 27, 2019 at 10:17 pm

    I think some questions need to be asked and answered first. Are the armed school personnel going to be required to re-qualify their firearm proficiency and if so at who’s expense? Should they not re-qualify will they lose their certification to carry on school grounds? Should the unthinkable happen at their school and they decide their Glock or .38 (what will they be allowed to carry?) is not sufficient match for an AR-15 and they instead decide to retreat and students and or teachers are killed, will they be held accountable or leave the state open to lawsuits? I would really like to hear the answers to these questions before any new law is passed.

  • Ron

    March 28, 2019 at 9:48 am

    Joe, for the millionth time, a gun is a piece of steel that just sits there, day after day, year after year, inert, moribund, coated with dust, dead and utterly incapable of harming anyone. It is the evil within human beings that is “the problem”, and until you can tell me how we prevent that evil from erupting, every individual has the right of self-defense against it.

    • Peter

      March 28, 2019 at 2:57 pm

      Take away the means of that evil the AR-15 and universal mental health care would help a lot!

  • Jan

    March 28, 2019 at 12:17 pm

    As a result of the slow response of police at Columbine, even with a school resource on campus, many people died. Since then, police across the country developed the Immediate Action Rapid Deployment tactic–going toward the sound of the gunfire and trying to take out the shooter. Unfortunately, this did not take place a Stoneman Douglas High School and it also cost many lives. The question is whether or not a teacher could effectively move toward a shooter, trained or not. As Joe Henderson says, schools can be very chaotic at different times of the day–class changes, lunch, etc., especially in emergencies.
    Newtown elementary school in Conn. had no police resource officer and many lives were lost. It has been suggested that the shooter in that situation avoided the high school because he knew they had an officer on campus.
    There is no perfect solution to this problem but having worked in the schools for 35 years I believe there should be a police officer at every elementary and middle school, and two officers at every high school, trained to advance to the shooter. The money for this must come from the legislature–children are our greatest resource.

Comments are closed.


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