Sunday, June 17, 2018
Politics

Florida House votes to allow arming teachers

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida House on Monday approved a bill that would let teachers pack heat at school.

The 71-44 vote was largely symbolic. The proposal is a long shot in the more moderate Senate, where it has stalled in committee.

Still, the vote made one thing clear: The National Rifle Association is a powerful force in the Florida Capitol.

"This is the sixth gun-related bill that we've done this session," said Rep. Lori Berman, a Lantana Democrat. "Meanwhile, background checks have not been discussed. It's no wonder Florida has the nickname the Gunshine State."

The bill (SB 968/HB 753) would let school leaders designate certain employees to carry concealed weapons on campus. In order to be considered, the employees would have to have a concealed weapons license and either military or law enforcement experience.

The proposal would also require schools to hold drills to prepare for active-shooter situations.

Republican Rep. Greg Steube of Sarasota first pitched the idea in early 2013, weeks after a shooter killed 20 students and six staff members at a Connecticut elementary school.

The NRA was an early supporter of the bill.

"The best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," longtime NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer said.

But parent groups, teachers and local school boards have argued that guns should not be allowed on school property.

"[Putting] guns in the hands of school personnel is not the answer to ensuring the safety of all children," said Mindy Gould, who oversees legislative affairs for the state PTA.

Miami Coral Park Senior High social studies teacher Valerie Petersen also had reservations about introducing deadly weapons into classrooms.

"From personal experience, I would feel less safe in a school where guns are present," Petersen said.

Steube's bill didn't make it to the finish line last year.

This year, it prompted a contentious partisan battle on the House floor.

Rep. Karen Castor Dentel, a Maitland Democrat and strong opponent, said the Legislature ought to "let teachers teach."

"If you want to keep children safe, put forth the money from our surplus to hire resource officers," Castor Dentel said. "I know Rep. Steube has worked hard on this, but arming teachers is not the solution. Funding our schools adequately is."

Rep. Katie Edwards, D-Plantation, recommended her colleagues address the cause of school violence: student mental health.

"That's where our focus needs to be next session," she said.

But Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, said Florida had inadvertently made schools more dangerous by declaring them gun-free zones.

"We are not safe when we create an environment where those who are deranged can go and do reckless damage," he said.

Rep. Ronald Renuart, R-Ponte Vedra Beach, said the bill presented a logical solution to the problem.

"We cannot afford to have resource officers in every school full time," Renuart said. "Yet, we have very willing veterans who have been well-trained who can help us in this situation."

Contact Kathleen McGrory at [email protected]

Comments
FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says heís willing to testify before Congress

FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says heís willing to testify before Congress

The FBI agent who was removed from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election for sending anti-Trump texts intends to testify before the House Judiciary Committee and any other congressional committee that asks, his attorney sai...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Erosion of immigrant protections began with Trump inaugural

Erosion of immigrant protections began with Trump inaugural

The Trump administrationís move to separate immigrant parents from their children on the U.S.-Mexico border has grabbed attention around the world, drawn scorn from human-rights organizations and overtaken the immigration debate in Congress.Itís also...
Updated: 5 hours ago
GOP lawmakers decry family separations as WH defends policy

GOP lawmakers decry family separations as WH defends policy

WASHINGTON ó Congressional Republicans distanced themselves Thursday from the Trump administrationís aggressive policy of separating children from their parents at the southern border even as the White House cited the Bible in defending its "zero tol...
Published: 06/14/18
Sarah Sanders and  Raj Shah are planning to step down, per CBS report

Sarah Sanders and Raj Shah are planning to step down, per CBS report

Press secretary Sarah Sanders and principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah are considering stepping down, according to a CBS report. Sanders promptly responded in a Tweet saying, "I love my job and am honored to work for @POTUS." Does @CBSNews k...
Published: 06/13/18
Updated: 06/14/18
Fed raises key rate and sees possible acceleration in hikes

Fed raises key rate and sees possible acceleration in hikes

WASHINGTON ó The Federal Reserve has raised its benchmark interest rate for the second time this year and signaled that it may step up its pace of rate increases because of solid economic growth and rising inflation. The Fed now foresees four rate hi...
Published: 06/13/18
Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister hits $1 million mark in first bid for election

Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister hits $1 million mark in first bid for election

TAMPA ó Law enforcement officers never want to be outgunned. Neither do political candidates.Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister need not worry.The Republican candidate has amassed what appears to be a record-sized war chest of just more than $1 mil...
Published: 06/12/18
Romano: It ainít voter suppression if you bother to show up

Romano: It ainít voter suppression if you bother to show up

So the Supreme Court is in favor of voter suppression.Or is it election integrity?I suppose your interpretation depends on your party affiliation.Liberals seem convinced that an Ohio voting law upheld by the Supreme Court on Monday is a devious plot ...
Published: 06/12/18
Romano: It ainít voter suppression if you bother to show up

Romano: It ainít voter suppression if you bother to show up

So the Supreme Court is in favor of voter suppression.Or is it election integrity?I suppose your interpretation depends on your party affiliation.Liberals seem convinced that an Ohio voting law upheld by the Supreme Court on Monday is a devious plot ...
Published: 06/12/18
Trumpís tougher Cuba policy having little impact on Tampa area

Trumpís tougher Cuba policy having little impact on Tampa area

TAMPA ó June 16 will mark a year since President Trump announced a tougher Cuba travel policy, but unlike in much of the nation, the changes donít seem to have hurt local bookings to the island.The number of people traveling between Tampa and Havana ...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/13/18
Trump, Kim Jong Un arrive in Singapore for historic summit

Trump, Kim Jong Un arrive in Singapore for historic summit

SINGAPORE - President Donald Trump arrived here Sunday night ahead of a potentially historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the first meeting between the leaders of two countries that have been sworn enemies for almost seven decades.Air...
Published: 06/11/18