Florida teachers legally allowed to carry guns in the classroom

Florida teachers can legally carry guns after passing a 144-hour course, as implemented by the new bill passed on May 1. The decision came after the Parkland shooting last year.
Florida teachers can legally carry guns after passing a 144-hour course, as implemented by the new bill passed on May 1. The decision came after the Parkland shooting last year. Photo credit: AAP Photos

Teachers in Florida will now be legally allowed to carry firearms in the classroom following a new legislation in response to the Parkland shooting.

School districts across Florida are now eligible to take part in a voluntary Guardian programme which involves a 144-hour training course. Teachers who pass the course can be armed on school premises. 

The debate on arming teachers arose after a former student opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, killing 17 people and wounding 17 others with a semiautomatic rifle.

The National Rifle Association and US President Donald Trump subsequently argued that armed teachers would provide the best defence against future school shootings.

Florida legislators rushed to pass a law requiring each school campus to have at least one armed staff member or police officer. The pro-gun state also implemented some positive changes, such as a three-day waiting period on gun purchases and raising the age limit for buying rifles from 18 to 21.

Despite equipping some school staff with guns last year, the law still prohibited firearms in the classroom.

Supporters of armed educators rekindled the debate this year, contending that school shootings usually develop too quickly for police officers to respond in time.

Others have questioned whether gun violence can be solved by bringing more guns into the public sphere. Opponents have also examined the potential for teachers to misfire or the likelihood of police mistaking a teacher for the aggressor.

Florida's House of Representatives passed the bill on Wednesday, 1 May.  After hours of debate over two days, the end vote was 65 to 47. The Republican majority defeated all Democratic attempts to amend the legislation.

Florida's senate approved the law 22 to 17 last week.

A spokesperson for the Speaker of the House revealed school employees in 40 of Florida's 67 countries are already enrolled in, or plan to take, the 144-hour course. Some counties have reportedly resolved against partaking in the course.

A large proportion of Florida's population still staunchly advocate for gun-control. Parkland students inspired widespread protests last year affirming the need for improved gun-control laws in America.

Newshub.

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