Guns for School Employees Supported by Senate Panel

Controversial proposal wins support among lawmakers but also has detractors

A proposal aimed at improving school safety could put guns in the hands of school employees and could allow principals to designate a teacher or other staff member that can pack heat.

While the controversial proposal has won support among lawmakers, it had some in South Florida speaking out Monday.

"There's nothing more important for me when I drop off the kids in the morning and knowing that they're going to be safe," parent Lupe Martinez said. "Why are we going to create such chaos?"

"To have teachers be the hall monitors and the police at the same time, and try to teach, that's a terrible idea," said retired teacher Clyde Corley.

The proposal won the support of a Senate committee during a hearing on Monday in a 5-2 vote. According to the bill's language, a selected employee would have to complete training requirements to carry the concealed weapon. He or she must be a veteran or active member of the military or a law enforcement officer.

"We have a lot of people, national guard men and women, people that are in school administration and school instruction that are perfectly equipped if we can empower them," said Republican representative Dennis Baxley, from Ocala.
Supporters believe it could help prevent tragedies from happening in Florida schools. The chief of the Miami-Dade Schools Police Department says it would actually contribute to safety issues.

"If there is a shooting on campus and law enforcement is responding, how do we know who is a bad guy? There are way too many variables," Chief Ian Moffett said.

It gets no support from the Florida School Board Association either.

"It allows young people to say ‘if my teacher has a gun or my coach has a gun why can’t I carry a gun?’" Florida School Board Association executive director Wayne Blanton said. "That is the wrong message for impressionable young students."

Chief Moffett says the focus should be on prevention, like investing in school resource officer programs. He urged to leave the job of protecting students to trained law enforcement officers.

"We signed up knowing the mindset, we signed up knowing that we are running towards danger. A teacher, faculty or staff member, they didn't sign up for that," he said.

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