Last week, Florida’s House K-12 Education Subcommittee approved a bill allowing principals to appoint certain staff and faculty members to carry firearms in the state’s schools, The Miami Herald reports.
The subcommittee approved the proposal by a vote of 10-3. The measure would give Florida’s principals the option of either hiring a school resource officer or arming a designated school employee.
“I’ve been getting feedback from principals all over the state about how strongly they support an initiative like this,” Rep. Greg Steube (R-Sarasota), the primary sponsor of the bill, told The Miami Herald. Under the proposal, staff personnel chosen to carry concealed weapons into school would undergo specialized training. The bill, applicable to both public and private schools, would require the faculty member to keep the weapon on his or her body at all times during the school day.
All eight Republicans on the panel approved the measure; two of the five Democrats on the subcommittee also voted for the proposal.
“I would hope that if a madman were to walk on a campus where my children were and his goal was to die and to take as many children [as possible] with him,” Rep. Elizabeth Porter told The Miami Herald, “there would be somebody there to stop that man from murdering my children, and that somebody would take him out before he could do that.”
The bill is adamantly opposed by some Floridians. Wayne Blanton, executive director of the Florida School Boards Association, believes the proposal would result in major liabilities for school districts.
“Our teachers and principals are role models,” he told the Miami Herald. “You are going to send the wrong message to these students.”
St. Johns County activist Colleen Wood believes the bill is an “embarrassing excuse” for a school policy. “Handling a shooter in a school is serious business,” she told The Herald. “It requires serious training, not just a gun and a concealed weapons permit.”