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 Appropriations Committee voted to advance SB 7030, which would expand the Guardian Program established in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act by allowing classroom teachers to be armed, possibly over the objection of local sheriffs. The bill passed despite bipartisan opposition.
“Today, our voices joined those of teachers, members of law enforcement, veterans, faith leaders and so many more as we told our lawmakers that we don’t want our teachers armed,” said Gay Valimont, volunteer leader with the Florida chapter of Moms Demand Action. “There are so many solutions in this bill that we support, and are desperately needed to protect our children. But putting guns in the hands of teachers is far too dangerous. It is my sincere hope that lawmakers will reject the idea of arming teachers and remove that from the bill, and instead move forward on the aspects of this bill that we can all agree would truly keep our schools safe.”
“Why don’t our lawmakers understand that putting more guns in our schools will not keep my friends and me safe?” said Maria Victoria, volunteer with the Florida chapter of Students Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “Students in Florida have made it clear that we want our lawmakers to focus on policies that would actually save lives, instead of policies that would make school a more dangerous place. We’ll keep speaking out until our representatives finally listen.”
This bill would be a risky expansion to 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 those that did experienced problems. In fact, the Sarasota school board voted not to arm teachers 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. Yesterday, 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 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 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.