Florida Lawmakers Advance Bill to Allow Arming School Employees

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Public and private school principals could designate teachers and other school employees who would carry concealed weapons on campus at all times in an effort to make schools safer, under legislation that won approval Wednesday from a Florida House committee.

It gives principals the option to designate one or several school employees to carry concealed weapons. The designee would be required to complete the same training that bank and courthouse security guards complete in addition to the statewide firearms training. Principals could also decline the concealed weapons option altogether.

Proponents of the bill argued that since the state can’t afford to put a school resource officer on every campus, the gun legislation is a commonsense alternative.

“I want my children safe and in our overwhelming desire to protect our children with gun free zones we have inadvertently made them the ideal sterile target for a madman and the unwillingness of people to confront that reality is unacceptable,” said the bill’s co-sponsor Rep. Dennis Baxley. But several lawmakers expressed reservations about placing more guns on school campuses.

The bill would allow no one to carry a gun on campus, except the principal’s designee who has completed the proper training. That person would be required to carry the firearm on them at all times. The principal will determine whether to tell parents who that person is. Several lawmakers expressed concern that local school boards should not be kept in the dark about whether schools in their districts are armed.

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