School safety debate continues at the Captiol

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - During an extraordinary Saturday session, the Florida Senate has voted to keep going forward with a program that could potentially arm certain school personnel.

Photo: Pexels

Before the Senate convened, a group of protesters gathered in the Capitol courtyard, urging lawmakers to forego the Marshal Program included in the School Safety bill.

It would allow trained teachers to carry a gun in the classroom if a school district chooses to allow it. Kristin Mackay, a first grade special education teacher, was among the protesters.

“This being passed would not only make me want to quit as a young teacher who's just starting out, but also my coworkers would be standing by me as well,” said Mackay.

In debate, Democrats expressed concerns over a lack of state oversight, saying too much authority is given to local sheriffs to determine how the programs are implemented.

Senator Gary Farmer said, “If the sheriff were to authorize the marshal to carry an assault weapon that would be allowed?”

Senator Bill Galvano responded, “That would be left to the sheriffs.”

The Senate briefly adopted a temporary ban on the AR-15, but then backed off.

An attempt for an all-out ban also failed.

Other gun restrictions included in the bill stand in the way of some Republican’s support.

Senator Greg Steube said, “If it has the age increases and the waiting periods in it I will not support it.”

And the greatest threat to Democrats’ support is the Marshal Program.

Senator Audrey Gibson said, “Some of us who are all about true safety and not arming teachers or any other personnel that would be inside of a classroom.”

The full Senate will vote on the proposal Monday.

Senators rejected a last ditch effort to find common ground, voting down an amendment which would have removed both the Marshal Program and the gun control provisions in the bill.