This story actually popped up last week but somehow got lost in my inbox for a while. Down in Florida, in the school district where the horrific shooting took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the Stoneman Douglas Commission finally sat down to take a vote on one of many measures being considered to provide additional security for students and teachers in the event of future mass shooting attempts. The subject at hand was the concept of arming teachers who volunteer to undergo rigorous training and carry firearms at work.
Given the outrage expressed over the idea by many student activists and virtually everyone in the media, you might think this plan would never get off the ground. But it went the opposite way, with all but one of the commissioners voting in favor of the proposal. (CBS Miami)
The Stoneman Douglas Commission voted 13-1 on Wednesday to recommend that qualified teachers who volunteer to carry guns on campus be allowed to do so.
“The more people we have appropriately trained and appropriately equipped after their appropriately selected the safer the kids are because we have to get there in seconds,” said Commission Member Grady Judd, Sheriff of Polk County.
The idea is a controversial one and it came up repeatedly after the February 14th shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 dead and 17 others injured.
Commission Chair Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said the shooting at MSD proved to him that selected teachers who undergo background checks and extensive training can stop a school shooter.
Some of the parents and students were still speaking out against the proposal. (The single vote against the measure was cast by the father of one of the students killed in the attack.) Also, the state teachers union is opposed to the measure.
This action doesn’t change existing law or allow the program to go into effect. Rather, the finding of the committee will be passed to the Florida state legislature for consideration. Given their intimate standing with school shootings, it’s possible that the legislature will look upon their recommendation kindly.
If they fail to act, what else are the schools supposed to do? They freely admit that they don’t have the resources in their budget to place armed security officers in all of the locations needed throughout the school district. Restricting access to the school brings its own complications, and metal detectors and similar security precautions can also be prohibitively expensive.
Sure, you can always dial 9-1-1, but the response time for the best local police units still proves to be too long in many tragic cases. And even if law enforcement arrives promptly, many of these parents are still no doubt wondering what happens if the first person on the scene turns out to be “the Coward of Broward County.” In Florida, as with many districts around the nation, willing, well-trained, armed teachers may be their best line of defense if enough precautions are taken to prevent students from getting hold of the firearms.