New Bill In Florida Wants To Arm Teachers, Instead Of Making It Tougher For Shooters To Buy Guns

New Bill In Florida Wants To Arm Teachers, Instead Of Making It Tougher For Shooters To Buy Guns

According to the new bill that was passed by the Senate, teachers in Florida will be allowed to voluntarily carry guns to school as long as the school boards agree.

Schools are a place of learning, they are educational institutions that shape the future of our world. They are generally known to be the safest places for children. Maybe not anymore in Florida. On Tuesday, earlier this week, the "school security" bill was passed by the Senate. The controversial bill allows the teachers to carry arms to school, pending whether or not that teacher's school board decides that this is a necessary action. This move comes a little over a year after a gunman entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and killed 17 people. Apparently, the bill was prompted only after the Parkland shooting took place. However, there are several gun rights and gun safety activists that are protesting against the new bill. They believe that it is not safe to allow anyone to carry any sort of weapons to a place of learning, a place that is meant to be peaceful. 

The bill was passed by Republican Senate President Bill Galvano. According to the Wall Street Journal, after the bill was passed 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." The bill was approved by a 22-17 vote majority mostly along party lines.


Technically, the bill is an add-on to the Gun Law that was passed last year. After the bill was passed last year there were a number of gun restrictions imposed in Florida, for example,  the purchase age for firearms was raised to 21 years. The bill contained both progressive and conservative policies, and this new school-security provision is no different. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, the new bill includes a very conservative policy of arming teachers.


However, there are other progressive policies included in the bill such as,  including increased availability of mental health services for students, and the requirement that schools undergo improvements to the "physical security" of their campuses, among others. According to The Sun Sentinel, the rules around the provision for arming teachers is clear on the stipulations. None of the teachers or staff members of the school will be forced to carry arms. They will also not be allowed to carry arms without informing the school board first. 


After the school board has authorized the teachers to carry a gun, the respective teacher will undergo a psychological evaluation and complete at least 144 hours of training. The provision is technically an expansion of the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, which was implemented in Florida last year. The program allowed non-instructional employees to arm themselves voluntarily only after they undergo training. Ever since the program was introduced, 25 schools have opted into it. However, the program did not allow in-classroom teachers to carry weapons of any kind. This provision is new.


Several Florida senators spoke on the Senate floor about the vote on Tuesday. Sen. Bill Montford, a Democrat, argued on the Senate floor that teachers shouldn't have to add a new responsibility on top of their workload. He said, “What we are telling teachers [is] if you want protection for you and your children then you do it yourself." On the other side of the aisle, Sen. Ed Hooper said, “I must err on the side of saving a kid." Sen. Lauren Book, a Democrat, spoke on the Senate floor for over 20 minutes about how conflicted she was on this vote. Her conflict resulted largely due t the fact that she had seen footage of wrestling coach Chris Hixon looking for a weapon before he bravely stepped into the fray anyways during the Parkland shooting.


Hixon lost his life during the shooting. Book, who eventually decided to vote against the bill, said that it was an “exceedingly painful vote.” The bill has been passed by the Senate. It will now be passed on to the Florida House where another round of voting will take place. If passed for the second time, Gov. Ron DeSantis has said in the past that he plans to sign it into law.
Is this move really necessary especially during a time when we are trying to reduce gun violence in the country? Agreed that it is for the safety of the students in the school but is it right to arm the in-classroom teachers?


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