Commission formed after Parkland school shooting votes to recommend state law to arm teachers
PARKLAND, Fla. — The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, formed after the school shooting Feb. 14, 2018 in Parkland, voted to recommend a state law be passed that would allow teachers to be armed. Advocates say it could help keep students safe in the event of a school shooting.
The controversial proposal was part of a 407-page preliminary report addressing failures by Broward County law enforcement officials during the massacre in which 17 lives were lost, as well as recommendations on how to counter future violence in schools.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who chairs the commission, supports the measure.
“We have to give people a fighting chance. We’ve got to give them a chance to protect themselves, in my view. We don’t have enough to put cops in every school or multiple cops in every school and we’re not maximizing use of the guardian program, and one good guy with a gun on campus is not adequate,” said Gualtieri.
The proposal has yet to go before the governor or state lawmakers.
If approved, teachers who want to carry would be required to go through training and background checks before arming themselves.
“Here’s the issue — districts and schools need to act now. They need to act now,” said Lauren Book, Florida state commissioner.
Currently, only some teachers and school staff are allowed to carry firearms.
Since the Parkland shooting, at least 14 other states have introduced similar measures. The changes have been met with some support in states where rural communities lack funding and resources to respond to a school shooter.
Max Schachter is the only person on the commission who opposes the arming of teachers in Florida. He’s also the father of one of the victims of the Parkland school shooting.
“I don’t think teachers should be carrying guns. I think they have enough on their plate. I think their priority is teaching. It just creates a lot of host of more problems,” said Schachter.
With the recommendations still tentative, more debate is likely about how to face a school’s worst nightmare.
“What we’ve got right now ain’t working. So we need to do something differently,” said Gualtieri.