Arming teachers becomes ongoing debate

Published: Feb. 28, 2018 at 6:58 PM EST
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Since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL multiple proposals have gone through the Florida legislature, and one of them could put a gun in the hands of your child's teacher.

The Alachua County Commission has come out with a resolution opposing that bill and asking Governor Rick Scott to impose stricter gun laws.

Some Florida lawmakers have approved a $67 million voluntary program to arm school staff, including teachers, trained by law enforcement. Jack Pickett of Pickett Weaponry in Newberry said it's a great idea.

"These crazy people are not attacking police stations, they are attacking their victims where they know their victims are unarmed," Pickett said.

But for the Alachua County School Board, there are too many concerns.

"What sort of training would this involve, storage of weapons, what's the liability?" Alachua County Public Schools Director of Communications Jackie Johnson said.

Johnson said they would rather invest more in their school resource officers, who safely stopped a student who brought a gun to Eastside High School on Tuesday.

"Right now we don't see any support for arming teachers," Johnson said.

Pickett thinks, with the right training, giving teachers guns could stop the violence.

"The teachers have got to place well-armed shots," Pickett said. "So it's going to take more than simply saying 'here's a firearm, carry it and good luck.'"

President of the Alachua County Education Association (ACEA) Karen McCann said if teachers wanted to have guns, they would have joined the force.

"It's not even practical to think that a teacher would be able to get kids out of harm's way, make sure they were safe, go to the locked closet, get the gun out and then go after the shooter," McCann said.

What they do agree on is mental health.

"We need to bring back the ability to flag people for mental health problems," Pickett said. "I mean, this kid down in South Florida should have never had access to a gun period."

The bills also include measures to raise the age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21 and mandate a 3-day waiting period. Florida senators and House representatives found common ground before drafting these bills, but none have come to a full vote in either chamber yet.

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