A bill to allow employees and volunteers to carry a loaded firearm at schools across Florida was recently approved by a House education panel, all as a measure to prevent school massacres as the ones seen in other states in previous years.
HB 753 would make it legal for a single school safety designee basically anyone with a valid concealed weapons permit, including acting duty or retired law enforcement or military personnel to carry a gun after completing firearm and school safety training requirements. Currently only law enforcement officers are allowed to legally carry a gun at a school.
VOXXI contacted the bills sponsor, Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota; however, he never responded to questions sent via email. On his website he posted, I am proud that the School Safety bill received bipartisan support during the second week of the Legislative Session.
HB 753 includes language that says anyone interested in becoming a school safety designee must complete a 40-hour school safety-training program, as well as annually complete eight hours of active shooter training at an accredited law enforcement academy and four hours of firearms qualification.
Steube wrote that the impetus behind HB 753 is the FBI and the Department of Education data shows the majority of violence in schools takes place in less than 15 minutes. Furthermore, in Florida the average response times in most counties is six to 11 minutes.
As legislators, parents, members of faculty and Floridians, we must all ask; What can we do to prevent a horrific event such as Sandy Hook from occurring in Florida? Steube said. I would rather there be a trained retired member of law enforcement or a trained member of the military than just responders en route.
Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala pointed out that despite any good intentions, schools that are gun-free zones leave those inside defenseless.
Its time to embrace this, Baxley said. Firearms save peoples lives. Thats why policemen carry them.
Passed with strong support from Republican leadership in the House education K-12 subcommittee, HB 753 is similar to a 2013 armed-teachers bill, which never made it out of Legislature.
There are plenty of opponents around the state that hope the new bill meets a similar fate.
Its not a good idea to put guns in the schools, we think, Florida Education Association spokesperson Mark Pudlow told VOXXI. The potential for unintended consequences increases when you have guns in the classroom. For every time something happens that prevents a tragedy, there might be multiple times when a tragedy occurs that wouldnt have happened if there werent guns in the situation.
Someone else also not in favor of HB 753 is Broward School Superintendent Robert Runcie.
We do not believe that arming administrators and teachers is the right solution to ensure the safety of our schools, he said. We need to continue working with local law enforcement, school police, school resource officers, campus security specialists and monitors to maintain safe learning environments.
As of this writing the bill sits in the Justice Appropriations Subcommittee of the Florida House of Representatives for review.