Should Florida teachers carry guns in schools to prevent violence?

6:23 PM, Dec 18, 2012   |    comments
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Tallahassee, Florida - Do you think Florida schools would be safer if teachers and principals were allowed to carry guns?

That's an idea suggested by a state lawmaker following the Newtown, Connecticut shootings.

Rep. Dennis Baxley believes teachers and principals would be in a position to stop gun violence in schools if they could carry guns. He thinks laws banning guns from schools and other sensitive areas have turned these zones into easy targets for unstable people.

The idea to allow guns in schools to try to stop violence makes some people uncomfortable, including Valencia Jenkins of Tallahassee. She has two children and has been a member of their schools' Parent Teacher Organization for six years.

Jenkins strongly opposes the idea.

"I absolutely feel that is not the answer. I, as a parent, would not feel comfortable knowing that my children's teachers and principals are walking around with guns or that they have keys to where the guns are. I feel like that could possibly cause more shootings and more violence in the schools and that's just not the answer to me."

She goes on to say, "All the schools deal with a multitude of different children and different backgrounds, different mental health issues and for some students to know that these teachers have access to these weapons, it could be more of a danger, put more people in danger as opposed to someone such as the Newtown situation where the guy just ambushed them unknowingly. I don't think that's the answer to this problem."

The Florida Education Association echoes those concerns. Spokesman Mark Pudlow says it's still early to start thinking about specific actions to result from the Newtown tragedy, but the idea of putting guns in the hands of school personnel seems inappropriate.

"It strikes us as a little odd to be introducing guns into the schools. In some cases they may be able to prevent something like that, but we also know that there are other times when guns get stolen and they might get used in a different way than they were intended. So I think we ought to be real cautious about supporting something like that."

Pudlow adds that if someone is really intent on carrying out gun violence -- such as the incidents in Newtown or Columbine -- it's hard to stop them.

Jenkins says she would like to see schools hire police officers to help improve security. But she says that seems like an improbable option, because currently there's barely enough money for educational materials.

Pudlow thinks the real solution may ultimately reflect what President Obama said Sunday night.

"Which was we really need to do a lot better job of taking care of each other. I think that means when somebody is disengaging from society that we need to help get them back into the fold and maybe prevent things that way rather than making sure everybody has a gun and is always on the alert to stop things."

Rep. Baxley is the architect of Florida's controversial Stand Your Ground law, which allows people to use deadly force if they feel seriously threatened. He expects the Legislature to study Florida's gun laws when it convenes next March.

Dave Heller

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