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Damon Veras: Arming teachers — the end of the classroom; the beginning of the war room

This could’ve been my school. These could’ve been my friends. There could’ve more done.

Feb. 14, 2018. Valentine’s Day, enamored with countless classroom interruptions entailing gift bag deliveries containing chocolate treats galore. The bell rang for dismissal, and the instantaneous race to the student parking lot ensued. I clocked into work, put down my book bag and signed into my computer. Shortly after I settled in, one of the attorneys I clerk for burst out of his office and rushed toward me.

Active shooter situation at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, the headline on my desktop read. An indescribable pain erupted from my lower stomach as I desired to speak but felt trapped by shock.

The minuscule, watery drips of solution that dispense from our eyes began to escape my body, taking refuge in nothing other than hope. This could’ve been my school. These could’ve been my friends. There could’ve more done.

Tallahassee seems to think that weaponizing our state’s public school teachers is the answer to avoid tragedies like this one. As the debate over arming teachers heightens, some believe that if properly trained, teachers ought to have a concealed-carry option on school grounds. Lawmakers who support this proposal have demonstrated where their priorities lie — catering to NRA lobbyists instead of looking out for our state’s best interests.

Blood remains on the hands of decades of logrolling in the Republican Party. Restricting access to certain areas at lunchtime and the establishment of “Hard Corners” in every district classroom became subtle allusions to our new reality. Students are very aware of the changes to what was once a safe learning environment centered on developing academic aptitude shift to a potential crime scene.

Proponents of the Guardianship program’s expansion have branded it as a preventive method aimed at aiding school faculty in an emergency situation by providing a method of self-defense to teachers. What is not lost on me, however, alongside my peers, is that this legislation is merely a scapegoat for lawmakers and lobbyists who have found re-election bids and deep-pocketed partnerships to be their motivation for pushing such a bill forward. My generation has been marked by the bloodshed of guns.

It is our charge, much like that of those who so fearlessly marched last year, to oppose this dangerous bill, HB 7093. I urge you to call Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office (850-717-9337) to remind him of what’s at stake — the militarization of our public schools at our learning’s expense.

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Damon Veras, 18, is a senior in the Legal & Public Affairs Academy at Coral Reef Senior High School and part-time file clerk at Ligman Martin, PL Attorneys at Law.

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