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Florida Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action, Everytown Slam Governor Desantis For Signing Bill That Will Arm Teachers

May 9, 2019

Florida Legislature Voted to Advance the Bill Despite Statewide Opposition From Educators, Veterans and Survivors of Gun Violence and Evidence That Arming Teachers Is a Risky Idea

Many of the Largest School Districts Across the State Have Pledged to Not Arm Teachers

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 Governor DeSantis signed into law SB 7030, which will expand the Guardian Program to allow classroom teachers to be armed, even over the objection of local sheriffs.

“Governor DeSantis has turned his back on every student and teacher in Florida today, but we will not,” said Gay Valimont, volunteer leader with the Florida chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “We will go district by district to make sure our school boards give our children the protection that lawmakers won’t. 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.”

“Florida lawmakers claim they passed this bill for the victims and survivors of the shooting at Parkland, but they have ignored many concerns for student safety,” said Sari Kaufman, survivor of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland and a volunteer with the Florida chapter of Students Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “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.”

SB 7030 would expand the Guardian Program established in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act to allow classroom teachers to be armed. During a heated and emotional debate on the House floor, lawmakers raised concerns that the bill will have a disproportionate effect on children of color.

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 Manatee school board, Lee school board, Palm Beach school board, Lake school board, 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.The superintendents of Broward County, Miami-Dade County and Seminole County have all indicated their districts will not allow teachers to be armed.

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.

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