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A new Florida House bill has been passed that allows teachers to volunteer to carry guns in schools if the local school boards approve, the Sun Sentinel reports.
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Teachers that want to carry arms will have to undergo drug testing as well as psychological testing. They will also have to have 144 hours of firearms training and have a valid concealed weapon permit.
The House Education Committee, which is led by Republicans, passed this school safety bill with a 11-5 vote. The bill is tied to the “Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act” which says “each sheriff may establish a Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program and appoint certain volunteer school employees as school guardians.” As of January 2019, there are 726 armed volunteer guardians in 25 Florida counties. The act was passed last year after a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the Parkland city of Florida left 17 people dead.
“The more people that are there to defend students, to defend other teachers, the better,” Republican Rep. Jennifer Sullivan of Eustis said. “If a teacher does not want to go through the program, I don’t want them to go through the program.”
The passing of this bill is opposed by teachers unions as well as Democratic representatives who don’t believe teachers should double as law enforcement.
“Teachers want to teach children and broaden children’s minds,” Democratic Rep. Susan Valdes of Tampa told the Sun Sentinel. “If they wanted to be a cop, they would have gone to police academy and become a cop.”
Republicans feel that with a bill like this in place, it will help prevent mass shootings at schools from happening.
“If this bill was in place before Parkland, how many less lives would have been lost?” Republican Amber Mariano said in defense of the new legislation.
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