House Approves Bill To Allow Guns In Schools

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Associated Press News Release

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- A House committee has approved a bill that would allow trained officials to carry firearms in schools as a way to improve safety.

The bill (HB 753) approved Wednesday is sponsored by Greg Steube, a Republican from Sarasota. It gives schools the option to appoint former or current law enforcement officers and former or current military officers with state legislated training to carry firearms on campus.

They would be required to go through 40 hours of school-safety training and eight hours of active-shooter training each year. They also would need four hours of firearm qualification annually.

They'd be required to have a carry-and-conceal permit.

Local school boards or principals would make the appointments.

Representatives for the Florida School Board Association and Parent Teacher Association opposed the bill.

A measure to allow trained people to carry firearms at Florida's schools cleared a hurdle in the Capitol today. By a 9 to 4 vote, a House committee approved that plan.

"I think it's really important that our children are safe," said bill sponsor Representative Greg Steube.

Steube is an Iraq War veteran and father of a three year old boy.

"We have schools that are completely unarmed that are completely defenseless," he said.

The Sarasota Republican is sponsoring a bill to allow trained helpers to carry guns in Florida's schools.

Under the plan, only former or current law enforcement officers or military would be eligible.

Qualified people would have to take a 40 hour school safety course, 8 hours of active shooting training per year.

And leaders at each school district can decide if they want this type of help or not.

"Just to have security guards in schools with guns I don't think solves the problem," said Representative Alan Williams.

The Tallahassee Democrat opposes the plan.

Williams took part in the rally against the state's stand your ground law on Monday.

Some of those demonstrators went to a committee hearing where the Senate's version of the bill was passed.

Williams points out Leon County, for example, has school resource officers who are armed and currently work in law enforcement.

"If we need to do anything, I think we need to put more funding into the school resource officer initiative," said Williams.

"Unfortunately, the state doesn't have the money to do that," Steube said.

And he says many school districts don't have the money for school resource officers either.

He says under his plan either volunteers or school districts would pay for training.

Steube says school resource officers he's talked to also say they'd like to have back up if a threat arises.

His bill has two more committee stops in the House.

Associated Press News Release

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- A House committee has approved a bill that would permit selected school officials to carry firearms on campus in case of emergency situations.

The bill approved Wednesday also sets qualifications for who can be designated to carry a firearm, and for other preventative measures in case of a school shooting.

Anyone selected must have a carry and conceal permit, complete training to deal with shooters and be past or current members of either the military or a law enforcement agency.

Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, is sponsoring the bill that didn't pass last session.

The bill also requires school districts to hold active-shooter drills once a year -- similar to fire drills. Local law enforcement would also be required to review schools every three years and present suggestions for safety precautions.

Updated by: Garin Flowers
March 10, 2014, 6pm

A bill allowing school employees to carry guns around schools had its first hearing today.

Legislators heard emotional testimony from both sides.

There were people for and against it. One man in favor of it said if a perpetrator with a gun came on campus, this would allow a highly responsible person at a school to take action.

But more people against it said it's dangerous, and they don't want their kids around it.

Several Senators spoke up against it as well, saying the bill isn't ready; it doesn't fit every county because most of them have school resource officers.

Updated by: Garin Flowers
March 10, 2014, 5pm

The parents of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis testified at a hearing at the Capitol today. They spoke out against "stand your ground" saying the law allows people to kill and get away with it.

This hearing was about the proposed bill to allow school employees to carry guns in school, but they used this as an opportunity to oppose "stand your ground".

By: Capital News Service
Matt Galka
March 10, 2014, 5pm

School administrators could soon be able to pick which teachers carry a gun in school.

That bill had its first hearing today, but some school officials say more guns aren't the answer.

Strict Federal and State laws ban guns by anyone who is not a cop in school zones. But a proposal to allow principals to pick a teacher or staff member to carry a gun on campus is gaining traction at the Capitol.

"We've absolutely made students a target; we didn't plan on it that way, but that's the way it's turned out," said Rep. Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala).

The hope is that arming a teacher could prevent a tragedy like Sandy Hook from happening in Florida.

"We have a lot of people; National Guard men and women, people that are in school administration and school instruction that are perfectly equipped if we can empower them," continued Rep. Baxley.

The selected gun carrier would have to meet training requirements. The candidates would be former members of the military, police force, or anyone with a concealed weapons permit.

The bill isn't getting any support from the Florida School Board Association.

"It allows young people to say 'if my teacher has a gun or my coach has a gun, why can't I carry a gun?' That is the wrong message for impressionable young students," said Wayne Blanton, Florida School Board Association.

A bill from Rep. Dennis Baxley touts common sense punishment for kids who make guns out of Pop-Tarts moved through the Capitol last week. Blanton says putting a real gun and not a pastry around kids could lead to more problems.

"I think that there would be more instances of things that would happen and could go wrong when more people have guns on campus," said Rep. Baxley.

His solution: a school resource officer in every school in Florida.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement estimates that it would cost more than $2 million to train all designated school employees in the state on all three courses.

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