Florida Senate Passes Bill to Allow Trained Teachers to Arm Themselves in Class
The Florida Senate has passed a bill that would allow teachers to carry guns to class if their local school boards agree to it.
The bill will now go to the House, after being approved by a vote of 22-17. The Republican House has been extremely supportive of the bill, and Gov. Ron DeSantis has indicated that he intends to sign it if it passes.
If passed, the bill will still require local school boards and charter governing boards to vote on whether or not they want to authorize it.
“Teachers who volunteer to bring guns to schools would have to undergo a psychological test and at least 144 hours of training, the results of which have to be approved by law enforcement,” The Hill reports.
Republicans have argued that having teachers armed and trained to handle a school shooting situation would not only help during an incident, but may also deter attacks.
“The bill features other items aimed at school safety, including greater reporting of school safety incidents, a standardized risk assessment process for dangerous students, and new guidelines on school-based mental health. Those provisions have bipartisan support,” the Florida Sun Sentinel reports.
Democrats have argued that the responsibility to stop school shooters should not fall on teachers.
The bill was prepared using the work from a state commission created in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting, aimed at finding ways to prevent school attacks in the future.
Democrat Sen. Lauren Book, who was on the commission, voted against the legislation, but explained that it was painful for her to do so. She tearfully explained how she believed Stoneman Douglas wrestling coach Chris Hixon could have stopped the attack if he had been armed based on videos she had seen of the moments leading up to his death.
“I saw him look around, check his pockets, search desperately for something, anything to engage the shooter,” Book said. “After seeing all the footage, I know he could have and would have done more to stop or delay the carnage.”