Florida Legislature OKs bill for arming schoolteachers

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to sign a bill allowing teachers to be armed in schools, an idea nearly three-quarters of educators opposed in a March 2018 poll. File Photo by Mark Wallheiser/UPI | License Photo

May 2 (UPI) — The Florida Legislature has passed a bill allowing teachers to be armed on campus, a practice encouraged by President Donald Trump in the days after the 2018 Parkland school shooting that killed 17.

The House voted 65-47 on Wednesday to pass the legislation, a week after the state’s Senate approved it 22-17. Gov. Ron DeSantis has expressed support for arming teachers at schools and is expected to sign the legislation into law.

The legislation requires the local school boards to individually decide whether to allow armed teachers on campuses in their districts. Teachers would need to complete at least 144 hours of training and undergo a psychological evaluation.

The suggestion of arming teachers after the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has been given a mixed reception. Trump said he liked the idea, and a Florida commission investigating the shooting recommended arming teachers to prevent or lessen the impact of future shootings.

RELATED Many older adults keep guns loaded, unlocked at home, survey says

Florida state Rep. Chuck Brannan, a Republican, said the legislation would be a deterrent for anyone considering opening fire on a Florida campus.

“This bill is the ultimate school-hardening law,” he said. “It allows the good guy to stop the bad. … The bad guy will never know when the good guy is going to be there to shoot back.”

Gallup survey of educators a year ago indicated 73 percent opposed the idea of carrying guns in schools. Fifty-eight percent said they believed carrying guns in schools would make them less safe.

Superintendents in the Miami-Dade and Broward county school districts said they plan to opt out of arming teachers. The Parkland school is located in Broward County.

“The Broward County School Board voted on a resolution against arming teachers in March 2018,” Superintendent Robert Runcie said. “We do not believe arming teachers is the best way to make our schools safe.”

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