Ever since gunman Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people in a shooting in Parkland, Florida on February 14th, many of the students who survived have lobbied for gun control, holding protests and giving powerful speeches. And change slowly appears to be happening. Some retailers, including Dick’s Sporting Goods, have pledged to stop selling assault rifles. Now, a change for Florida gun laws is on the horizon. But among many gun control measures, the proposed Florida gun bill would also enable school staff to carry weapons.
Lawmakers in the Florida House of Representatives passed a gun control bill yesterday, March 7th, and now it’s headed to Governor Rick Scott’s desk to be signed and ratified. Several of the measures included in the Florida gun bill do impose stricter regulations on the sale of firearms. The bill raises the legal age to purchase guns from 18 to 21, bans bump stocks for semiautomatic weapons, and creates a waiting period of three days for gun sales.
But there is another, more controversial aspect of the Florida gun bill: It enables school staff to carry firearms. According to the Tallahassee Democrat, “classroom teachers who exclusively perform instruction” would be ineligible to be armed, but other members of staff — like coaches, librarians, administrators, and cafeteria workers — would be able to volunteer. The provision would only apply to those with military or law enforcement backgrounds.
The idea of arming teachers is one that has been opposed by many, including Scott, who has not committed to signing the bill. The proposal stems from the idea, perpetuated by the NRA for years, that a “good guy with a gun” can stop mass shootings. But there is no evidence that arming more people results in fewer shootings. In fact, Scot Peterson, an armed school resource officer present during the Parkland shooting, failed to even enter the school, demonstrating that just because someone has a gun doesn’t mean they will be able to use it to stop a crisis situation.
Many of the measures included in the bill are positive changes, and if Florida passes new gun laws including these provisions, it will be a step in the right direction. But if we truly want to end gun violence, putting more guns in schools is not the answer. Guns have no place in schools — in the hands of staff members or otherwise.