Here are the basics you need to know.
What does the Florida law do?
The law expands the state’s controversial Guardian Program. Passed into law in 2018, the Guardian Program allows school employees in Florida to carry a gun on campus after undergoing screening and training by a local sheriff’s office. There’s no evidence the program has been effective. The Guardian Program was established with an exception that classroom teachers are not eligible to be armed unless the teacher is an active duty service member, a JROTC instructor, or a current or former law enforcement officer. The new law removes this exception — which allows more guns to be brought into classrooms.
Why is it dangerous to arm teachers?
In moments of crisis, guns in Florida schools makes it more difficult for law enforcement to know who the good guy is versus the bad guy when everyone starts shooting. We also know that any mistake with a gun can be deadly. Just last year, Marjory Stoneman Douglas teacher Sean Simpson — who originally supported arming teachers after the Parkland shooting — was arrested when a homeless man shot his Glock 9 mm pistol after Simpson left it in the bathroom at a Florida public beach. Teachers and students have enough to worry about with homework, books, and tests. Adding guns to the equation makes it lethal. Learn more in our fact sheet.
What do educators think about arming teachers?
The 140,000 teachers and school support professionals of the Florida Education Association (FEA) oppose arming teachers, as does the Florida PTA. The majority of Florida voters along with the Florida Education Association, the Florida PTA, and many Florida sheriffs from across the state oppose arming teachers. Florida’s schools, parents, teachers, and law enforcement from across the state oppose arming school teachers.
Stephanie Baxter-Jenkins, executive director of the Hillsborough County Classroom Teachers Association, believes that arming teachers puts far too much responsibility on teachers. “Can you imagine somebody you taught potentially coming on the campus and you...protecting other children and shooting a child you once taught? We're not thinking about all the mental issues that go into that,” she said. “We also have kids that come from places where school is the only safe space that they have…so turning that into a different scenario -- we don't think is healthy for kids mentally.”
Florida teachers unions, which are against guns in the classroom, have repeatedly said that if the governor signs the bill into law they will sue.
What do Florida voters think about arming teachers?
A March 2019 Quinnipiac poll showed that 57% of Florida voters oppose allowing trained teachers and school officials to carry guns on school grounds, while only 40% of Floridians believe that arming teachers and school officials is a good idea. 63% of women in Florida stand against arming teachers.
What exactly is a school board resolution?
A school board resolution is a formal expression of opinion or intention of the local school board. These resolutions go into effect on the date of final passage. Often times, these resolutions will dictate school procedures and programming within a given county or district. Check out NEA’s guide on school board resolutions for more information.
Is this just happening in Florida?
No. Right now, there are bills to arm teachers moving in at least five others states, including Montana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Texas. At least 14 states already allow teachers to carry guns in the classroom. Bills to add guns to schools and campuses are currently moving in 22 states. This cannot become a national trend.