Bill that would arm teachers moves forward in state legislature

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - State lawmakers approved a bill Tuesday that would allow some teachers to carry a gun in the classroom, despite calls from Parkland students, teachers, and parents.

The Florida Sheriff's Marshal Program is part of the Republican's response to the Parkland shooting. It allows teachers who are trained by law enforcement to carry a gun in a classroom. It's modeled after a program in Polk County led by Sheriff Grady Judd.

"This is a force multiplier to protect children," Judd said.

Under the legislation approved by a House committee, school districts can decide if they want to participate or not. Still, dozens of Parkland residents, teachers, and parents made it clear… "[I'm] Not for arming teachers," said Shelbie Seys.

Patricia Kodish was substitute teaching at Stoneman Douglas the day of the shooting.

"This will be a terrible detriment to some students' actual mental well-being knowing that their teachers actually have guns," said Kodish.

The House expanded the program, making it a requirement for sheriff's offices to offer the training program, even if the school district doesn't opt in.

Senator Kevin Rader represents Parkland. He says the amendment will make it even more difficult for Democrats to give their support.

"Teachers need to learn how to teach, law enforcement needs to protect us," said Rader.

Representative Jose Oliva says it provides a ready force in the event a school district chooses to join the program at a later date.

"The amount of time that it would take to train up those who volunteer to go into the program would be significant and therefore this is really just a measure of preparedness," said Oliva.

The bill also requires schools to have one school resource officer for every 1,000 students. Sponsors say the marshal program allows for an extra line of defense.

The proposal received six "no" votes, all from democratic representatives.