Momentum growing to allow arming classroom teachers

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - On the heels of the first anniversary of the deadly school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, momentum is building for allowing teachers to be armed.

Six hundred and eighty-eight trained school personnel have qualified to carry guns under the guardian program. It was passed in the wake of the deadly Valentine's Day shooting last year. They are protecting students in 25 of Flordia’s 67 counties.

Dennis Baxley says lessons were learned in Parkland.

“That first three minutes of exposure when something is becoming an incident, if you don’t act right then, if you haven’t empowered somebody there, then it could get worse, much worse; a massacre,” said Baxley.

Lawmakers excluded classroom teachers from being guardians after pressure from then-Governor Rick Scott, but Scott is gone and the 15-member commission set up after the shooting has voted to arm teachers.

Senate President Bill Galvano says the commission is working exactly as intended.

"And that commission had a diverse makeup, including families of victims and law enforcement. And a lot of folks changed their views on the guardian program going into it,” Galvano said.

Currently, a sheriff must first offer the Guardian Program, and then it’s up to the school board to accept, but a proposed change would flip that. If a school board wants to have armed teachers, the sheriff would have to make it happen.

The Guardian legislation is likely to be among the first bills to make it to the Senate floor when lawmakers meet next month.