TALLAHASSEE — No matter who makes the final decision on allowing guns in classrooms — the Legislature or local school districts — the Florida Education Association (FEA) maintains that arming teachers will make our schools more dangerous for students and educators.
With the passage today of SB 7030, Florida lawmakers have chosen to cast aside their responsibility for the safety of this state’s children and school staff, and to ignore the voices of countless parents and educators along with current research. Instead of acting responsibly to fund safety, they offer school districts a cheap path to a false sense of security.
If Gov. Ron DeSantis signs this bill into law, as expected, it will be up to local districts, parents and educators to keep guns out of their classrooms and away from students.
“We urge parents, teachers and staff to speak up against arming teachers, to rise up and tell their local school boards that they do not want guns in classrooms. Districts will be the last line of defense on this issue,” said FEA President Fedrick Ingram. “There is no research to show that arming teachers will make our students safer. Opinion polls consistently show the public is against it.
“If a local district wants to let teachers carry weapons, parents and educators should ask some tough questions. Will teachers wear guns, or how will firearms be stored? Will parents and students be told if the teacher in any given classroom is armed? Can parents opt their kids out of a class where the teacher is carrying a gun? If a weapon is accidentally fired or displayed by a teacher, what reporting and disciplinary measures will be in place? There are a lot of questions a district needs to answer if it plans to allow armed teachers.”
School boards in counties including Orange, Duval, Hillsborough, Lee, Leon, Manatee and Sarasota have taken a formal stand against arming teachers, while district leaders in other counties have spoken against it. Out of Florida’s 67 counties, only 25 have chosen to participate in the initial Guardian program, which did not allow teachers to volunteer to carry guns. If SB 7030 becomes law, those districts can continue to keep their teachers unarmed. In Polk County, for example, the school superintendent recently announced that the district’s Guardian program will not include teachers.
FEA members have long opposed arming teachers. To truly make our students and staff safer, our state should invest in hardening school facilities and in ensuring that every school has a resource officer and a sufficient number of trained mental health professionals, such as guidance counselors, school psychologists and social workers.
CONTACT: Joni Branch, (850) 201-3223 or (850) 544-7055
The Florida Education Association is the state’s largest association of professional employees, with more than 140,000 members. FEA represents pre K-12 teachers, higher education faculty, educational staff professionals, students at our colleges and universities preparing to become teachers and retired education employees.