The Florida Senate Voted to Advance the Bill Despite Statewide Opposition From Educators, Veterans and Survivors of Gun Violence
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Students Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety, released the following response after the Florida Senate voted to pass SB 7030, which would expand the Guardian Program to allow classroom teachers to be armed, even over the objection of local sheriffs.
“Today, the Senate turned a blind eye to countless constituents who have begged them not to arm teachers,” said Gay Valimont, volunteer leader with the Florida chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “The lawmakers who supported this risky bill over the staunch objections of the people who elected them have not heard the last of us on this issue. But, our fight to keep our kids safe doesn’t stop here. We will continue to urge legislators in the House and Governor DeSantis to reject this bill.”
“In the past year, students across Florida have demanded safer schools,” said Jovanna Liuzzo, volunteer with the Florida chapter of Students Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “Today, members of the Senate ignored our pleas that they arm our teachers with resources for our schools, not guns. We have no intention of giving up this fight. Lawmakers should expect to keep hearing from us until they reject this bill and at the ballot box in the next election if they don’t.”
SB 7030 would expand the Guardian Program established in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, which is an already unpopular and dangerous program. A report from the Tampa Bay Times revealed that only a minority of school districts have chosen to implement the Guardian Program and several of those that did experienced problems. In fact, the Sarasota school board, Hillsborough school board and Pinellas school board have already voted not to allow teachers to be armed even if the legislation passes.
Editorials from the Gainesville Sun, Sun-Sentinel, Tampa Bay Times, The Palm Beach Post and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune have opposed the idea of arming teachers. Recently, an article in the Miami New Times highlighted instances of Florida teachers misusing guns, indicating that arming teachers is dangerous and can lead to unintentional shootings.
Arming teachers is also unpopular with voters; a recent poll from Quinnipiac University showed that a strong majority of Florida voters oppose allowing teachers or school officials to carry guns in schools, even if they are given training.
Research indicates that arming teachers will make children less safe. For this reason, school safety experts, teachers, parents and law enforcement officials across the country oppose arming teachers, including the Florida Education Association. The National Association of School Resource Officers, the largest organization of school-based law enforcement officers, also opposes arming teachers.