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Columns

The Legislature, the Media and Teachers Carrying Guns

April 29, 2019 - 4:45pm

Leaders in the Florida Senate voted 22-17 last week to expand gun legislation, saying "yes" to a bill that would permit teachers in Florida schools to carry guns on campus. The bill has wide support in the House, too -- and in the Governor's Office, where Ron DeSantis is anxious to sign it.

What a turnaround from a year ago.

In 2018, swept up in post-Parkland emotion, guns and pro-gun bills were nearly as toxic as a cup of Jim Jones' Kool-Aid.

After the shooting that took 17 lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine's Day 2018, the ensuing months were a blur of media-fueled, anti-gun activism. Students were looked at as the perfect mouthpieces for media narratives, and were given every opportunity to display their views. Being young, and recently enduring an unimaginable calamity, the kids were deemed unassailable, and the networks especially granted them full access to their airwaves. Being above criticism meant anti-gun views ruled the months following the shooting, demonized opponents, even brought down once-powerful politicians.

In 2018 the bills Gov. Rick Scott signed into law banned gun stocks, expanded background requirements, and raised the age for purchasing select weapons to 21. At the same time, legislators denied a bill to arm educators in schools. It was widely regarded as a heinous and foolhardy idea. 

Now, one year later, the current Legislature has "done a 180" on expanding gun rights. The Senate bill passed last week would grant permission to teachers to carry in the classroom on a volunteer basis. Those who vocally oppose the plan overlook the substance of the bill: Teachers looking to carry a weapon would have to complete a minimum amount of training hours, pass a psychological check and be approved by law enforcement officials. And their ability to carry a gun would apply only to those school districts that approve the law for their schools.

The media, meanwhile, are doing their part to boost the side they support -- virtually all of them against the bill. Whether it was The Miami Herald, or the Tampa Bay Times, they used the fallback “Gunshine State” moniker, while being sure to include the concerns of the families from the Parkland area who have been vocal activists for the past year. Keeping with the hyperbolic theme, Yahoo News elected to bastardize the bill in its headline, implying that carrying a gun would become requisite for new teaching recruits.

CNN gave student survivor Alfonso Calderon time and a platform to vent in extreme fashion on how teachers are not meant to wear Kevlar vests or carry AR-15s. The lowest "protest," however, may have come from Newsweek. As unsurprising as it may be that the news outlet sought out reactionary voices from the anti-gun lobby, in rather reckless fashion the magazine was quoting Amy Donofrio of the Evac Movement. The activist-hysteric commented on the Senate vote as somehow targeting minority students. "Today Florida didn't just pass a bill to arm teachers, we signed death certificates for kids of color.”

What these reactionaries -- and, most troubling, the media -- choose to ignore is that the concept of armed teachers in classrooms was something recommended as part of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission's 446-page report, issued last November. The panel was a bipartisan collection of 15 members made up of law enforcement, education and mental health professionals from around the state, and fathers of two of the victims from the shooting. 

Listed among a number of school safety measures that should be enacted was that having armed teachers could negate some of the lag time between a possible fatal event and the arrival of law enforcement. Astonishing that this recommendation would receive so little notice and merit so little mention in the press, whose reporters and editors have been so laser-focused on the issue for the last year.

Brad Slager, a Fort Lauderdale freelance writer, wrote this story exclusively for Sunshine State News. He writes on politics and the entertainment industry and his stories appear in such publications as RedState and The Federalist.

Comments

Most times the perpetrator is a coward looking to kill or harm innocent victims. If the Perp. knows there are armed people in the facility they most likely will avoid it and look for a softer target.

Yup, like a building with a "gun free zone" sign.

Common sense solutions to afford more protection of school children appear to be kryptonite to unhinged liberals spewing false news in their thinly disguised attempt to sway public opinion. No one is forcing any teacher into carrying a firearm. It's purely voluntary and those wanting to participate in this program will go through training before allowing them to do so. The mere possibility of encountering armed faculty will deter the increasingly mentally unstable perpetrators roaming in plain sight. Time to make their families both criminally and civilly liable when they conceal their violent propensities and allow these nut-jobs to roam unfettered in the public arena putting our innocent citizenry at risk.

By their not adding tazets and pepper spray they've shown bias. Not everyone can carry a weapon and lawmakers won't let them carry non lethal protection. Looks like the NRA is in charge.

I feel bad for the people who chose a career to teach, now they are being forced to carry arms to school. What is a school? It is a place where adults gather to teach the young minds, to shape those young minds to be able to grasp their potential meaning in this place. Make schools a haven, where knowledge may continue to be disseminated, a place where even a troubled child would come for help/sanctuary, a place where the answers to all our questions will be understood.

No one is "forcing them to carry guns. They are merely allowing them to if they want to. Also if you read the bill they are required to go through training classes and must do annual training. At least that is the last time I read the law. Things may have been changed since then.

Teachers will not be forced to carry guns. For districts that participate, gun-carriers all will be volunteer.

I think you missed my point Nancy, the current narrative is that schools are not safe, fostering a culture of fear, I prefer that schools become a safe haven where even the troubled could come for help. Arming teachers is creating a horrible environment, an environment that will eventually look more like a prison than a school/academia. I think that many of the problems that have led us to this place in time could have been diffused before they became destructive. In most instances the troubled child was well known, but the system did nothing, until it was too late.

If you think it would produce a bad environment, why don't you check out Utah schools where teachers have had concealed weapons going on 14 years now. You know about all those school shootings in Utah? Yeah, me either.

Actually you missed the point. As far as I know of teachers will not be open carrying but rather concealed carry. So your point is completely mute and made out of ignorance rather then from knowledge. Go read the actual bill. Stop listening to your fellow if orant people and think for yourself.

I may be ignorant but one thing I am certain, guns whether in plain sight or hidden will foster an atmosphere of mistrust and suspicion. I totally support open carry and the 2nd amendment , but a school is a place of learning, not a prison lock-down. If this continues I suspect that education in Florida will suffer.

Quote: "guns whether in plain sight or hidden will foster an atmosphere of mistrust and suspicion" That certainly implies, at least for you, that police officers "foster an atmosphere of mistrust and suspicion". When I see a police officer, it fosters an atmosphere of safety, trust and confidence. Why? Because they are a person of authority trained and armed to be in the best position to deal with the bad guys. I love the fact that there are at least two police officers (because of their squad cars parked at their homes) in my neighborhood.

The anti gun crowd have failed totally to see that 35 states allow volunteers to carry and All anti-gun people have failed to say this OR produce figures that justify all their alarmist talk, Like Teachers dropping guns or shooting trouble makers. If these events ever happened I think we might have heard about them Can anyone tell me why School Districts do NOT want to protect children? Have they not worked out that gun free zones are attractive nuisances If Teachers MIGHT have guns perhaps the shooter will stay away?

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