Gov. Rick Scott opposes arming Florida school teachers

Gov. Rick Scott announces his school safety and gun control plan on Feb. 23,  2018. [The Florida Channel]
Gov. Rick Scott announces his school safety and gun control plan on Feb. 23, 2018. [The Florida Channel]
Published February 23 2018
Updated February 23 2018

Gov. Rick Scott rejected the idea of arming teachers as a way to protect public schools from future attacks, as he presented his plan Friday to enhance school security.

"I disagree with arming teachers. My focus is on bringing in law enforcement," Scott told reporters during a press conference. "Let law enforcement keep us safe and let teachers focus on teaching."

President Donald Trump and state Senate President Joe Negron have both backed the concept of arming teachers. Negron is to present a legislative plan later Friday.

Related coverage: Arming teachers? Some officials like the idea, but many educators don't

Scott said he wanted to go another way. He proposed adding $450 million to the budget for school safety, with one major part of his plan to provide at least one school resource officer for every 1,000 students in schools.

He did not dismiss the notion of allowing some teachers or others to be trained to support law enforcement. But he left that idea to be handled locally.

"We will also provide sheriff's departments the authority to train additional school personnel or reserve law enforcement officers to protect students if requested by the local school board," Scott said.

Other parts of his plan to enhance school security include requiring school districts to use their capital projects funding on school hardening needs first, and to provide mental health counselors at every school.

He also called for a ban on gun sales to anyone under age 21.

Read Scott's full comments here. See his proposal here.

UPDATE: The legislative school security proposal, introduced just after noon Friday, would permit teachers who have full law enforcement training to carry weapons at schools.

Negron said the program, if implemented, would be voluntary, based on the desires of local school districts and individual teachers.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran called the idea a "game changer" for school safety, and said it is the first of its kind in the nation.

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