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MSD Commission Recommends Arming Teachers

December 13th, 2018 by Jake Stofan

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Commission, tasked with investigating the Parkland shooting and recommending policy changes to the Legislature, is asking lawmakers to allow districts to arm teachers.

The move is opposed by teachers unions and some family members of victims.

Commissioners approved a recommendation to allow schools to arm classroom teachers in their meeting Wednesday in a 13-1 vote.

“These guardians must be trained and trained appropriately,” said State Senator and MSD Commissioner Lauren Book when discussing the move during Thursday’s meeting.

Arming teachers was considered earlier this year as lawmakers crafted a comprehensive school safety package.

It was opposed by Governor Rick Scott.

“My focus is on providing more law enforcement officers not on arming the teachers,” said Scott during a February press conference.

A compromise was reached, allowing staff members to be armed, but not classroom teachers.

Commission Chair and Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, opposed arming teachers at the start of the year, but now supports the idea.

“You’ve got to have somebody there that can swiftly and effectively neutralize the threat and that means killing the killer,” said Gualtieri. “And the only way you’re going to do that is that you have a good buy with a gun that can take that action.”

School teacher Debbi Hixon, who lost her husband in the Parkland shooting says arming teachers isn’t the answer.

“Even if a teacher thinks their up to that task, I just think it’s unfair to have that expectation for them,” said Hixon.

The Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, has been one of the most vocal opponents of arming teachers.

It argues guns in the classroom would put students in harms way.

“The line in the sand is this. Teachers want to teach,” said FEA President Fedrick Ingram. “They don’t want to carry guns. That is the responsibility of trained professionals. “

Moms Demand Action Against Gun Violence and the Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence also oppose arming teachers.

The Commission must submit its final report to the Legislature by January 1st.

It’ will then be up to lawmakers to debate whether any of the commission’s recommendations become law.

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