Senate votes to arm teachers

The House still has yet to pass a version of this bill.

Largely along party lines, the Florida Senate on Tuesday approved 22-16 a bill that would put armed teachers in K-12 classrooms.

SB 7030, a bill resulting from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, has come to be defined by its proposal to allow sheriff-trained “teacher-guardian” instructors to carry guns.

Those bearing arms would be volunteers.

This was an original proposal of the post-Parkland panel. While it didn’t make it into 2018 legislation, it’s back for what bill sponsor and Senate President Bill Galvano called the “2.0” version.

Sen. Manny Diaz Jr. noted that the bill implements commission recommendations “in entirety.”

Democrats, including Sen. Perry Thurston, said that the bill “does a lot to ensure children are safe in schools.”

But arming teachers, said Thurston, contravened the ask of the former Stoneman Douglas students, who did not want armed teachers. And, he added, the move would go against the wishes of educators themselves.

“These teachers say they don’t want that,” Thurston said.

Sen. Bill Montford, the Democratic Leader Pro Tempore, likewise targeted the arming of teachers.

“In the last 40 years,” Montford said, “teachers have had to take on responsibilities that the communities can’t address.”

Sen. Janet Cruz, a Tampa Democrat, wondered how she would face her constituents with this bill passing.

Sen. Dennis Baxley, meanwhile, framed the program as voluntary and “liberating” for teachers and districts.

“We’re used to taking responsibility for ourselves. We’re just asking to do the training,” Baxley said, noting potential weapon-bearers don’t present “stranger danger,” but are known to the school population.

Republicans, in the majority, saw the matter differently.

Sen. Ed Hooper, a Clearwater Republican new to the Senate, recounted the details of the massacre at the Parkland high school on Valentine’s Day 2018.

“I wish we had a law enforcement officer on every floor of every school. We do not and we cannot,” Hooper said.

“I must err on the side of saving a kid,” Hooper said, in support.

In the end, the bill came down to party lines.

Advocates of the legislation noted that the program is voluntary for teachers and districts alike.

The House has yet to have a floor vote on this legislation, which cleared committees already.

Sen. Galvano issued a statement after the vote passed.

“In the year following the tragic shooting in Parkland, Florida, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission worked diligently to investigate system failures in the shooting as well as prior mass violence incidents and developed comprehensive recommendations to enhance school safety and strengthen school district accountability,” Galvano said.

“I am very pleased to see this critical school safety legislation pass the Senate today. When we established this Commission last year, I made a commitment to take these recommendations seriously,” Galvano continued.

“This legislation continues our efforts to proactively enhance coordination between education, law enforcement, and community mental health resources to ensure at-risk students receive the help they need before a tragedy occurs. The bill also sets forth a plan to help school districts implement the security and school hardening provisions of the legislation we passed last year in an expedited manner to help prevent those who would seek to harm our children from gaining access to our schools,” Galvano added.

“Unfortunately, no amount of funding or public policy enhancement can anticipate or prevent every bad act. With this reality in mind, this legislation implements the Commission’s recommendation to expand the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program to allow willing teachers, who meet significant training and background screening requirements, to serve as School Guardians,” Galvano said.

“Seconds matter when stopping an active shooter. This legislation will ensure willing school personnel, including classroom teachers, have the training and resources they need to stand as the last line of defense between an innocent child and a violent criminal assailant. As the Commission resumes its work this year, my colleagues and I will continue to monitor the investigation and recommendations as part of our ongoing effort to enhance school safety and reduce the possibility that a tragedy like this will ever happen again,” Galvano added.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


13 comments

  • Amy Roberts

    April 23, 2019 at 12:26 pm

    SHAME on the legislators that voted yes and being held in the Grasp of the NRA because they want their money!! They need to protect children not set up a plan where so much can go wrong and innocent lives lost. Sheriff trained volunteers as Teacher Guardians? Even Tinder blocked George Zimmerman, do we have a way to block the George Zimmermans of the world from becoming one of these Teacher Guardians, after all who shows up for this kind of duty?

    • Rita

      April 23, 2019 at 1:14 pm

      When seconds matter, police are only minutes away.

      • Susan Aertker

        April 23, 2019 at 4:47 pm

        Rita–What do you mean? Would you want to require that every teacher carry a gun at all times while they are at school?

        I think most school districts are going to choose NOT to arm their teachers. BUT charter schools will be able to arm their teachers.

        I wonder if that will be a new charter school advertisement: All our teachers are carrying guns.

      • Susan Aertker

        April 23, 2019 at 4:50 pm

        Maybe you were just quoting from the article.

        “Seconds matter when stopping an active shooter….” Galvano added.

  • VoteDem2020

    April 23, 2019 at 12:33 pm

    Fools, tools, and ghouls!

    If any teacher accidentally shoots himself, herself, or some kid … it’s on the Republicans in the Florida legislature … and old lady M. Hammer!

    Republicanus Horribilis!

  • Kara

    April 23, 2019 at 12:38 pm

    I’m so glad I don’t have children in public schools anymore. This is horrible. Teachers with little training and guns around kids? It’s a recipe for disaster and it already has been, many times. 120 hours of training? That’s NOTHING. This is all about the Legislature fobbing off the responsibility for keeping our kids safe on overworked, underpaid, under trained teachers. Whose paying for the insurance? There is insurance, right? Who does a parent get to sue when the teacher fails to protect the children?

  • Jan

    April 23, 2019 at 12:49 pm

    As a Republican and a retired teacher, I see this as very bad public school policy and it sets dangerous precedents with too many unknowns.
    I also agree with several writers above that this is a misguided way for the legislature to save money and put further demands on educators. Let the state pay for a sworn police officer or deputy at each elementary and middle school and two at each high school to do the policing.

  • Sandra

    April 23, 2019 at 2:35 pm

    I dont know who the lady is thats holding the gun,but its a big no no finger in the trigger.Only until you aready to shoot.

    • Susan Aertker

      April 23, 2019 at 5:07 pm

      Perhaps the photo is in response to this quote from the article:

      “Seconds matter when stopping an active shooter….” Galvano added.

      Would you need your finger on the trigger if you think you have only seconds to react?

      Don’t you think the better idea is to keep guns out of the school? Metal detectors maybe?

  • Karen

    April 23, 2019 at 2:54 pm

    God help us if it comes to teachers with guns in the classroom. Where are the guns kept? On their person? Locked up? One of the crazier things our legislators have voted for, and there are a lot of crazy things – all that benefit their donors, I might ad (NRA, Airbnb, etc….).

  • Susan Aertker

    April 23, 2019 at 4:44 pm

    The school districts can choose to arm teachers and they can choose to arm people making $12.50 an hour. The state legislature is enticing them to do it by restrictive funding. Lines 1183 to 1186 of the bill should have been amended so the money could be used for metal detectors and panic buttons and other things to reduce risks.
    Lines 1183 to 1186 reads:
    additional funds appropriated to this allocation must be used exclusively for
    employing or contracting for safe-school resource officers,

    Also …even if the school district chooses NOT to arm teachers, the charter schools can still arm their teachers. Why does the tax payer have to fund that? Please do a follow up about that part of the bill. If an accident happens with one of these guns in the charter school, who will be the object of the law suit? The taxpayer or the management company of the charter school?
    Lines 224 to 238 of SB 7030
    A charter school governing board (in a school district that has not voted, or has declined, to implement a guardian program) may request the sheriff in the county to establish a guardian program for the purpose of training the charter school employees. If the county sheriff denies the request, the charter school governing board may contract with a sheriff that has established a guardian program to provide such training. The charter school governing board must notify the superintendent and the sheriff in the charter school’s county of the contract prior to its execution.c. The sheriff conducting the training pursuant to subparagraph 2. will be reimbursed for screening-related and training-related costs and for providing a one-time stipend of $500 to each school guardian who participates in the school guardian program

  • Susan Aertker

    April 23, 2019 at 8:30 pm

    I continue not to understand why the sponsor of the bill won’t let schools use the money for safety as they see fit.
    Quotes from article:
    SB 7026 earmarked $67 million for the guardian program but, according to a 458-page report submitted to the Legislature in January by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas School Safety Commission – created to ascertain how to best implement the bill – only 25 school districts had opted to go with guardian program, using only $9.7 million to train 688 guardians.

  • outdoor Knive

    April 25, 2019 at 5:52 am

    3. There were ɑctually twoo officіаl Swiss Army ᛕnives.

Comments are closed.


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