Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill Wednesday that would allow teachers to be armed inside the classroom.
SB 7030, as it’s known, expands the state’s voluntary Guardian Program to include teachers. Prior to the passage of this bill, only school staffers, coaches, and other personnel whose primary job didn’t involve teaching could carry on school grounds.
Like those other school employees who enlist into the Guardian Program, teachers will need to undergo extensive training (144 hours in total), pass a psychiatric evaluation and clear a drug screening before they are allowed to bear arms.
The bill also upped funding for mental health services to the tune of $75 million and works to improve communication between districts and authorities as it relates to students exhibiting troubling behavior.
“I am grateful to Governor DeSantis for signing this comprehensive school safety legislation into law,” said Senate President Bill Galvano, as reported by Florida Politics. “I appreciate the Governor’s full support of and partnership in our ongoing effort to enhance school safety and reduce the possibility that a tragedy like the seventeen lives we lost in Parkland will ever happen again.”
Opponents of the bill slammed DeSantis for signing SB 7030.
“Governor DeSantis has turned his back on every student and teacher in Florida today, but we will not,” said Gay Valimont, a volunteer leader with the Florida chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, in a press release obtained by GunsAmerica.
“We will go district by district to make sure our school boards give our children the protection that lawmakers won’t,” he continued. “And at the end of the day, we know that our power is in our votes. Lawmakers should rest assured that we intend to use them.”
Parkland shooting survivor Sari Kaufman also criticized the governor.
“Now, I’m scared for the next generation of students who will grow up afraid of gun violence in their schools; not just from a shooter, but from the guns that could be carried by their teachers,” said Kaufman, a volunteer with the Florida chapter of Students Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
New research from the Crime Prevention Research Center indicates that schools that allow teachers to be armed are actually statistically safer than those who do not. Since 2000, there hasn’t been a single mass shooting in any school that arms teachers.
The Guardian Program is completely voluntary. It is up to each individual district to decide if it wants to arm its teachers. Thirty of Florida’s 67 school districts have opted into the Guardian Program to arm staff members, according to FloridaPoltics.com.
Cheryl Etters, a spokeswoman for the Florida Dept. of Education, told the website that, “Currently, no districts have indicated to us that they are allowing classroom teachers to participate.”
We’ll see if that changes in the coming weeks and months now that SB 7030 is law.