BRADENTON, Fla. — A Republican bill that would expand the School Guardian Program and allow some teachers to carry guns in classrooms is headed to the Florida House.
- Legislative recommendations of MSD HS public safety commission moves forward
- However, multiple Bay area school districts not planning on arming teachers in class
- BILL BACKGROUND: SB 7030
The Florida Senate passed a wide-ranging school safety bill Tuesday. But some Bay area counties are planning to not participate in the new measure.
The bill seeks changes to a law enacted last year after a gunman killed 17 people in a rampage at a Parkland high school. While Democrats and Republicans agreed on nearly all other provisions in the bill, the one sticking point was a proposed expansion of a “guardian program” that allows guns in schools.
Right now, only teachers who have a role outside the classroom, such as an athletic coach, can participate. The vote was 22-17, with all but one Republican in favor and all Democrats opposed.
The bill still must be passed in the Florida House before it can be signed by the governor.
SB 7030 makes several school safety changes recommended by the commission that examined the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in 2018.
The most contentious is a plan allowing some classroom teachers to become part of the armed guardian program, if the school districts approve it.
"What this bill does is provide the 67 school districts, the 67 communities in this state, with the ability to do what they need to do to protect our kids," said Sen. Manny Diaz (R) Miami.
The bill would also enhance the communication and reporting of threats and expans resources for mental health services.
Meanwhile, Manatee County Schools has voted not to expand its guardian program. The vote there was 3-2 on Tuesday.
It ultimately remains up to each school district to decide whether they will arm their teachers.
Hillsborough, Pinellas and Sarasota counties have already done similar votes. Each of those counties has agreed to not allow teachers to be armed.
So far, 25 districts have approved participating in the guardian program.