Opposition to arming teachers builds

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - Opposition to arming teachers is building at the State Capitol, delaying a vote on comprehensive gun legislation.

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It has also prompted the Governor to make a rare appearance Thursday afternoon at House and Senate sessions.

Governor Rick Scott and the the father and brother of slain student Alaina Petty made an extraordinary appearance before the House and Senate Thursday afternoon.

“I’m here to ask each of you to set politics aside at this moment," Ryan Petty, Alaina's father said.

The Senate was scheduled to cast its first votes on comprehensive gun and mental heath legislation, but pulled the bill. Governor Rick Scott said afterward the Legislature must act.

"I don’t believe we should be arming teachers, I believe we have to make sure we have the funding to do superb law enforcement,” said Governor Scott.

But votes for the package are starting to evaporate. Moderate Republicans want an AR-15 ban.

Conservatives are objecting to raising the age to purchase a rifle to 21.

“If this devolves into a gun control debate, we’re going to miss our opportunity to get something done,” Petty said.

The Black Caucus is down on the bill.

Senator Perry Thurston said, “We are against guns in school. We want to see an assault weapon ban.”

One member, Kimberly Daniels, broke with the caucus.

“The NRA is against this bill, so I’m going to be for this bill,” said Daniels.

A special session could be in order if lawmakers can’t work out their differences by a week from Friday.

While Governor Scott says he does not want to arm teachers, when pressed, he would not say he would veto school marshals if approved by lawmakers.

The latest out of the Capitol is that the debate on guns won’t take place until Wednesday of next week and will likely occupy the last three days of the session, either on the House and Senate Floors or behind the scenes.