Armed teachers could be on their way to Florida school campuses.
A bill to allow school principals to designate school employees to carry concealed weapons for security passed the Florida House Judiciary Committee Tuesday to provide what its sponsor called a way to protect children from school violence when police aren’t able to.
“This is not something that’s a foreign concept to the defense of our children,” Rep. Brad Steube, R-Sarasota, told the committee.
Steube cited numerous other states that allow arms on campus, including Democratic bastions such as California and Hawaii.
The bill passed on a party-line vote, with Democrats opposing it after testimony from the Florida School Boards Association, the Florida Association of School Administrators, Florida PTA and other groups.
“This bill sends the wrong message … to our young people,” SBA Executive Director Wayne Blanton said. Allowing authority figures such as coaches, principals and teachers to be armed on school grounds would encourage students to want to be armed themselves, he said.
But Steube said it’s just a question of safety. Citing a 2002 study, he said school shootings are usually over within 15 minutes, many under five minutes. That’s too quick for responding police officers to intervene. At the Newtown, Conn., school shooting in December, he said, police officers didn’t arrive for 20 minutes after the carnage began.
“The incident’s going to be over before law enforcement gets there,” he said.
The bill requires any school employees authorized to carry weapons to undergo 40 hours of weapons training – the same as that required for armed security guards – as well as four hours of qualification instruction annually.
“If you’re OK with school resource officers and OK with armed security guards” you’re OK with this, Steube said