On Wednesday, the Florida state House of Representatives voted 65-47 to pass legislation that would allow teachers to carry firearms in the classroom. The legislation previously passed the state Senate 22-17 in late-April.
The bill is now headed to Republican Governor Ron DeSantis’ office, where he is likely to sign it into law.
The Florida legislation lays out a set of rules by which public school boards, teachers, charter schools, and law enforcement authorities must abide before any such program can take shape.
The following are some of the requirements stated in the legislation:
- A school board must vote “by a majority to implement a guardian program,” giving them ultimate authority in the matter.
- Once a school board has voted in the affirmative, the county sheriff must set up its own guardian program, or allow the school board to “contract with another sheriff’s office that has established a guardian program.”
- Charter schools that want to implement a guardian program in districts where a school board has either not voted, or voted against the program, may request their own program from the county sheriff. If their request is denied, the charter can “contract with a sheriff that has established a guardian program to provide such training.”
- Guardians have no law enforcement authority aside from stopping or hindering a school shooting.
- Guardians must have a valid concealed carry license, and complete 144 hours of training, including a psychological evaluation and diversity training.
- Guardians “must submit to and pass an initial drug test and subsequent random drug tests,” and “successfully complete ongoing training, weapon inspection, and firearm qualification on at least an annual basis.”
The pertinent text of the law reads (line numbers, citations, and strikeouts omitted):
Sheriffs, in their respective counties, in person or by deputy, shall:
(k) Assist district school boards and charter school governing boards in complying with s. 1006.12. A sheriff must, at a minimum, provide access to a Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program to aid in the prevention or abatement of active assailant incidents on school premises, as required under this paragraph. Persons certified as school guardians pursuant to this paragraph have no authority to act in any law enforcement capacity except to the extent necessary to prevent or abate an active assailant incident.
1.a. If a local school board has voted by a majority to implement a guardian program, the sheriff in that county shall establish a guardian program to provide training, pursuant to subparagraph 2., to school district or charter school employees, either directly or through a contract with another sheriff’s office that has established a guardian program.
b. A charter school governing board in a school district that has not voted, or has declined, to implement a guardian program may request the sheriff in the county to establish a guardian program for the purpose of training the charter school employees. If the county sheriff denies the request, the charter school governing board may contract with a sheriff that has established a guardian program to provide such training. The charter school governing board must notify the superintendent and the sheriff in the charter school’s county of the contract prior to its execution.
c. The sheriff conducting the training pursuant to subparagraph 2. will be reimbursed for screening-related and training-related costs and for providing a one-time stipend of $500 to each school guardian who participates in the school guardian program.
2. A sheriff who establishes a program shall consult with the Department of Law Enforcement on programmatic guiding principles, practices, and resources, and shall certify as school guardians, without the power of arrest, school employees, as specified in s. 1006.12(3), who:
a. Hold a valid license issued under s. 790.06.
b. Complete a 144-hour training program, consisting of 12 hours of a certified nationally recognized diversity training and 132 total hours of comprehensive firearm safety and proficiency training conducted by Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission-certified instructors, which must include:
(I) Eighty hours of firearms instruction based on the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission’s Law Enforcement Academy training model, which must include at least 10 percent but no more than 20 percent more rounds fired than associated with academy training. Program participants must achieve an 85 percent pass rate on the firearms training.
(II) Sixteen hours of instruction in precision pistol.
(III) Eight hours of discretionary shooting instruction using state-of-the-art simulator exercises.
(IV) Eight hours of instruction in active shooter or assailant scenarios.
(V) Eight hours of instruction in defensive tactics.
(VI) Twelve hours of instruction in legal issues.
c. Pass a psychological evaluation administered by a psychologist licensed under chapter 490 and designated by the Department of Law Enforcement and submit the results of the evaluation to the sheriff’s office. The Department of Law Enforcement is authorized to provide the sheriff’s office with mental health and substance abuse data for compliance with this paragraph.
d. Submit to and pass an initial drug test and subsequent random drug tests in accordance with … and the sheriff’s office.
e. Successfully complete ongoing training, weapon inspection, and firearm qualification on at least an annual basis.
The legislation comes on the heels of a lengthy report that was conducted in the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018. The report, which was chaired by Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, made numerous recommendations, including allowing teachers to be armed after receiving appropriate training.
There was fierce debate over the legislation. One major point of contention was an amendment from state Rep. Shevrin Jones (D) that would require “implicit bias” training for guardians. The amendment failed.
The Miami Herald quotes Jones, who stated: “I asked for implicit bias training because we’re talking about black boys and girls that are getting murdered by police officers. … There are bad police officers and there are bad teachers.”
While the legislation doesn’t require “implicit bias” training, it does require “diversity” training.
Reuters reports that “in anticipation of passage, school employees in 40 of Florida’s 67 counties already enrolled in or planned to take the 144-hour course, a spokesman for the Speaker of the House said.” However, the outlet also reported that some counties will not be taking part in guardian programs.
The Daily Wire reached out to Governor DeSantis’ office for comment, but as of publication, we have not received a reply.