Florida Legislature Approves Bills To Arm School Faculty Despite Objections From Teachers And Law Enforcement

Despite opposition from teachers and law enforcement, Florida is moving to create "marshals" in schools.

Last week, Florida students attempted to influence lawmaking practices by showing up en masse to demonstrate against the proliferation of guns in the wake of a school shooting that claimed 17 lives.

The demonstrations did not sway politicians, who shockingly voted against gun control measures after saying a prayer for the deceased. Now, Florida's House and Senate are moving in a different direction: this week, they have approved bills that would train teachers to carry guns.

The new measures would devote $67 million to create "marshals" — trained teachers and other faculty with firearms — according to The Huffington Post. 

The Florida legislature's decisions follow suit with President Trump's vision of gun safety, which he announced during controversial listening sessions with survivors and their parents. The legislature's moves have faced opposition from both teachers advocacy groups and law enforcement groups, according to The Huffington Post. Trump has additionally advocated that the teachers who receive this training should get a bonus. He believes 20% of teachers should be "weapons talented," according to his tweets and statements.

The Florida bills did include some new restrictions on guns: the minimum age for purchase would be raised from 18 to 21, the sale of bump stocks would be banned, a three day waiting period would be instituted. More money was also devoted to mental health in schools.

Governor Rick Scott has previously expressed opposition to arming teachers but was heavily criticized for his rejection of gun control measures last week, according to The Tampa Bay Times.

“I want to make it virtually impossible for anyone who has mental issues to use a gun,” said Gov. Rick Scott, according to The New York Times. “I want to make it virtually impossible for anyone who is a danger to themselves or others to use a gun.”

Meanwhile, some schools in Florida are announcing voluntary firearms training programs for school faculty, according to The Orlando Sentinel.

Huffington Post surveys suggest that the country remains split on the matter, with race playing a large factor in the opinions: 45% of respondents who identified as white were in favor of arming teachers, but only 30% of non-white respondents favored arming teachers. Political alignment also factored in: 70% of Republican respondents (but only 20% of Democrat respondents) favored arming teachers.

[Photo: Getty Images]

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