The Sunshine State took one more step toward finally making schools harder targets Tuesday, as the Florida Senate voted 22-17 to allow teachers to carry guns to defend themselves and their students – so long as the districts allow it, of course.
Since the tragic shooting in Parkland inFebruary 2018, the politically active on both the right and the left have entertained a host of novel ideas for protecting students. Anti-gun folk have proposed everything from harsher restrictions on firearms – and we’ve certainly seen an unfortunate amount of legislation headed in that direction – to actually arming students with hockey pucks. And no, that’s not a joke. Liberty Nation’s Leesa K. Donner wrote back in December 2018 about one school in which buckets of pucks were kept in the classroom. Their purpose? To give students a “fighting chance” should a shooting occur.
To Stop a Bad Guy with a Gun …
But perhaps the most obvious answer, touted primarily by those who know better to take a hockey puck to a gun fight, is to arm teachers and other faculty members – with actual guns, that is. This shouldn’t be hard to do. As Mrs. Donner also wrote, shortly after the Parkland shooting, “it isn’t all that difficult to determine an answer. Allow those with concealed carry permits to carry on school grounds.” It’s such a logical answer that, as LN’s Jeff Charles explained last December, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School safety commission, after much investigation and discussion, determined that the best way to protect the students moving forward was to arm the teachers.
Hyperbole as an Art
Not everyone agrees that arming teachers is the way to go, of course. Leftists nationwide howl in protest, uttering lines that could have come straight from Remy’s satirical song “People Will Die!” Newsweek obliged the anti-gunners by giving voice to their protests. “Today Florida didn’t just pass a bill to arm teachers, we signed death certificates for kids of color,” declared Amy Donofrio of Evac Movement. “We looked at factual racial bias in teacher expectations, referrals, & discipline … and signed a permit to extend the pipeline to the cemetery.” Survivors of the Parkland shooting turned activists, Sari Kaufman and Alfonso Calderon, claimed that arming teachers would simply increase the likelihood of gun violence in schools, and that educators shouldn’t have to worry about knowing how to carry AR-15s or donning Kevlar vests.
Not everyone on the left resorted to hyperbole, of course. Team Enough tweeted, simply, that it would “refuse to let this become a national model,” and the Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence tweeted thanks to the senators who voted against it.
Hardening the Target – Slowly but Surely
While Florida has seen some scary firearms legislation – like the new red flag law – pass since the shooting, they’ve also made slow progress toward making schools more dangerous for would-be shooters. The Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, named for the MSDHS coach who sacrificed himself to save students, was designed to allow school staff members willing to undergo and able to successfully complete a psychological exam and a minimum of 144 hours of firearms training to carry their guns to school.
Former Governor Rick Scott managed to sign into law a partial version of this program, though its explicit restriction on anyone “who exclusively performed classroom duties” meant only administrators and support staff could carry. Tuesday’s passage through the state Senate bodes well for the new push to expand that program to include teachers.
The current governor, Ron DeSantis, has already indicated his support, and with a 71-46 Republican majority in the state House of Representatives, this bill seems destined for success.