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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Bill to have armed employees at Florida schools passes first committee



A bill that would require Florida schools to have an armed officer on campus unless a principal designates an employee with a concealed carry permit to have a weapon has passed its first hurdle in the state House.

HB 1097, sponsored by Manatee County Republican Rep. Greg Steube, received bipartisan support, although the vote was not unanimous. Some members, including Democrat Rep. Gwyndolen Clarke-Reed, said they wanted to hear more support from school boards before they would back the bill themselves.

For the majority, though, the fear of having children unprotected in schools if a madman comes intent on doing harm proved a driving factor.

"Now this madman is going to have to guess and wonder, who on that campus is armed, and should I go somewhere else," said Rep. Manny Diaz, a Miami-Dade Republican and high school asisstant principal.

Steube, son of a sheriff, said he knew of people like Clarke-Reed who hate guns but feel safer at night knowing people around them are armed. Without money to pay for armed officers in every school, he added, giving permission for schools to authorize employees to carry weapons seemed a practical alternative for safety.

"We are never able to prevent evil people from doing evil things," Steube said. "So let's give law-abiding citizens the ability to protect themselves."

The bill has three more committee assignments before it could arrive at the House floor. A similar bill in the Senate has not moved.

[Last modified: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 1:05pm]


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