The Florida state Senate approved a bill that would allow teachers to carry firearms in schools Tuesday, The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.
The measure passed as part of a school safety bill created in response to the last year’s school shooting in Parkland. The bill was approved 22-17, with all but one Republican backing the bill and all Democrats opposing. The bill is expected to pass the state House and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has signaled that he will sign the bill into law.
The bill would allow school boards to authorize teachers to voluntarily carry guns in schools. Many Florida school boards have already publicly opposed arming teachers.
Teachers in districts that will allow teachers to carry guns must undergo a psychological evaluation and complete at least 144 hours of training.
The bill also includes bipartisan measures that increase reporting of school safety incidents, create a standardized risk assessment process for students deemed to be dangerous, and new mental health guidelines.
Parkland kids’ pleas fall on deaf ears:
Democratic state Sen. Darryl Rouson slammed the bill, pointing out that survivors of last year’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting came to Tallahassee to lobby against more guns in schools.
“The (Parkland) kids came here to this Capitol … what resonated about their coming here was the fact that they said, ‘Do not arm my teacher.’ And here we are, creating a pathway to arming teachers,” he said, according to The Tampa Bay Times.
“In my district, there are children that are living with gun violence every day outside of school. The school is a safe space for them,” added Democratic Sen. Oscar Braynon. “Let’s not inject this into that safe space for these children.”
Republicans defend pro-gun measure as safety measure:
Republicans strongly backed the bill, insisting that more guns in schools are necessary to make kids safer from guns in schools.
“I have schools that are 20 minutes away from anybody coming,” said Republican Sen. Dennis Baxley. “There needs to be somebody there that is prepared to act in the first three minutes.”
“I even heard the NRA boogeyman mentioned … Has anyone heard from the NRA on this? I haven’t. This is not about gun rights,” added Republican Sen. Rob Bradley. “This is about keeping our children safe and when all other things fail, that there is a last line of defense.”