Florida Moves Forward With Plan to Arm Teachers

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on May 14, 2019

On the one hand, you could understand Florida legislators: Facing mounting school shootings, reading the current gun rights landscape, and seeing little in the way of federal regulations that would restrict dangerous firearms, they threw up their hands and decided to arm the teachers.

On the other hand, the simple fact of gun ownership is that having a gun makes you more likely to be shot by one. So, are these teachers, or their students, going to be any safer if firearms are introduced into classrooms?

More Guns ≠ More Safety?

The scientific data is pretty persuasive at this point. People with guns in their home for self-defense are 40 to 70 percent more likely to be murdered at home. They are also over 200 percent more likely to commit suicide. One study showed that having a gun in the home is associated with a "nearly threefold increase in the odds that someone would be killed at home by a family member or intimate acquaintance." And states with higher gun ownership rates have vastly higher gun murder rates than states with lower gun ownership rates.

Additionally, guns aren't always that great for self-defense. A study by the National Crime Victimization Survey found that self-defense gun use was no more effective than other defensive tactics, like simply calling for help. There's been no verifiable link between permissive gun laws and a reduction in crime rate, and in fact, a January 2017 study reported that after Florida passed its infamous "stand your ground" law, the monthly homicide rate went up by nearly a quarter. As Mark Hoekstra, an economist at Texas A&M University who studies such laws told Scientific American, "We found that making it easier to kill people resulted in more dead people."

Guns in Class

Still, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill enabling school districts to take part in a voluntary "Guardian" program, which would arm teachers who pass a 144-hour training course. "While I don't think any teacher or administrator should be required to carry a firearm, I believe that those who possess a concealed carry license and are so inclined should not be barred from doing so on campus," the governor told the Tampa Bay Times in March. "What is more, I think it's important to establish a program so that we can enlist the help of retired military and law enforcement personnel to ensure that our students are safe while they learn."

Florida lawmakers also passed legislation requiring schools to place at least one armed staff member or law-enforcement officer at each campus in the wake of the Parkland shooting. (For those who may not remember, there was an armed Sheriff's deputy on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School campus that day -- Scot Peterson cowered in fear, radioed bad commands to responding officers, and ultimately never entered the building where Nikolas Cruz killed 17 students.)

According to some reports, school employees in 40 of Florida's 67 counties already enrolled in the training course. Hopefully this is the worst thing that happens in a Florida classroom with armed teachers:

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