Bay District Schools leaders weigh in on proposed armed teacher legislation

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Two weeks after the high school shooting in South Florida, lawmakers are moving closer to allowing teachers to carry guns in schools.

Bay District Schools leaders experienced a shooter firsthand several years ago and have heightened security since then.

"I think I'm blessed to be alive. I know it was a miracle, but I'm just thankful Mike Jones [Chief of Safety and Security and Police for Bay District Schools] was in the building," Bill Husfelt, Superintendent of Bay District Schools said.

There are mixed feelings about the legislation within the school district.

"Do I really have the training to go to the source and get that one shooter or do I have the great possibility of getting many others in the way?" Ginger Littleton, Bay District School Board Chair said.

Littleton believes educators should focus on teaching and not have to assume the role of a first responder.

On Wednesday, Bay District Schools officials released a survey to all district employees asking their thoughts on arming teachers.

The first question says, "There is pending legislation that would permit certain teacher volunteers, who have completed training, to carry guns on campus. Do you support that legislation?"

As of Wednesday afternoon, 58.2 percent voted 'yes' and 41.8 percent voted 'no.'

"It doesn't mean that 50 percent or 60 percent of these teachers want to carry guns, but they know individuals they would trust to carry guns to protect them. That's the key in this survey," Husfelt explained.

The next question asked, "Are you interested in going through that comprehensive training so that you could carry a gun on campus?"

Also as of Wednesday afternoon, 42.35 percent said 'yes' and 57.65 percent said 'no.'

Littleton said she doesn't believe teachers should assume the responsibilities of law enforcement.

"The idea that you are going to kill anything, especially one of your students, is completely abhorrent and it would be extremely horrible to have to live with something like that," Littleton said.

Husfelt suggested law enforcement or National Guard members be placed at every school in Florida while lawmakers decide on how they're going to enhance safety measures at schools.

"I don't know any teacher out there right now that wouldn't do anything they could to save a student's life and so we have to do everything we can to help them to do that. Arming them is just one of those suggestions that's out there right now," Husfelt said.

Sharon Michalik, Director of Communications for Bay District Schools, said the district will assess the results of the survey Thursday.