Should anyone who has a concealed firearm carry license be allowed to bring a gun onto the campus of a parochial school?
Two bills being considered now in Tallahassee say yes to that question. Right now, bringing a gun onto the campus of a religious school is a second-degree misdemeanor.
Senate Bill 498 and House Bill 259 would let anybody with a concealed carry permit to bring their guns onto campuses of religious schools. The bill’s sponsors see it as another layer of security enhancement.
“We oppose it, the bishops of Florida oppose it because we don’t think it’s necessary, we think it’s counterproductive,” said Archbishop Thomas Wenski of the Archdiocese of Miami.
The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops sent an appeal to Catholic school parents, urging them to contact legislators to oppose the bills.
“We stand with the archdiocese on this issue and many, many other communities of faith in our position that trained law enforcement and trained security are the best ways to keep our children and communities safe,” said Evan Goldman, the Vice President of Community Planning and Government Relations for the Jewish Federation of Broward County.
Goldman agrees with Archbishop Wenski that instead of making parochial schools more secure, the legislation might have the opposite, unintended effect.
“The way this law is put, if we opt out, and say we don’t want guns on our campuses, well that has to be posted, which is ridiculous because it’s telling everyone, hey, you looking for a soft target, look at us,” Wenski said.
The Jewish Federation’s security director said the average citizen who has a concealed carry permit does not have the training to deal with a fluid, emergency situation and could even pose a danger to police officers, who could be hit by friendly fire.
“What we have now is not broken, don’t try to fix it and don’t break it,” Wenski said, in what he called his message to legislators.
Supporters of the bills say any measure that allows, potentially, more so-called good guys with guns to be present on a school campus enhances security.