By Emily L. Mahoney: After about seven hours of angry, sometimes deeply painful debate about race and gun violence that spanned two days, the Florida House passed a bill Wednesday that would allow classroom teachers to be armed, expanding a program lawmakers created last year after the Parkland shooting.

The debate reached emotional heights that had Democrats shouting or tearing up as black lawmakers delved into details about their personal experiences with racism and their deep-seated fears about minority children being targeted by teachers who have guns. READ MORE.


The Florida Capitol looking east from the Florida Supreme Court.
The Florida Capitol looking east from the Florida Supreme Court.
Senator Wilton Simpson, R- Trilby, examines papers as he enter the Florida Capitol during the last week of the sixty day legislative session.
Senator Wilton Simpson, R- Trilby, examines papers as he enter the Florida Capitol during the last week of the sixty day legislative session.
Members of the Florida House debate a bill that would arm teachers in public schools with guns. The bill passed the House.
Members of the Florida House debate a bill that would arm teachers in public schools with guns. The bill passed the House.
Florida House Speaker , Jose Oliva talks with House members.
Florida House Speaker , Jose Oliva talks with House members.
Other business was conducted during the Florida House's legislative session. Here, Florida House Rep. James Grant, R- Tampa, votes yes son a red tide bill.
Other business was conducted during the Florida House's legislative session. Here, Florida House Rep. James Grant, R- Tampa, votes yes son a red tide bill.
Left to Right: Florida Senator Manny Diaz, Jr., R- Hialeah, talks with Florida Senator Wilton Simpson, R- Trilby, on the floor of the Florida Senate.
Left to Right: Florida Senator Manny Diaz, Jr., R- Hialeah, talks with Florida Senator Wilton Simpson, R- Trilby, on the floor of the Florida Senate.
Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, R- Mount Dora, answers questions about her bill, Senate Bill 7030, which would arm teachers in schools.
Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, R- Mount Dora, answers questions about her bill, Senate Bill 7030, which would arm teachers in schools.
Pictured are Rep. Jamie Grant, R- Tampa, right, and Rep. Anthony Sabatini, R- Howey-in-the-Hills on the floor of the Florida House.
Pictured are Rep. Jamie Grant, R- Tampa, right, and Rep. Anthony Sabatini, R- Howey-in-the-Hills on the floor of the Florida House.
Rep. Shevrin Jones, -D, West Park, gets a hand shake from Rep. Kamia Brown, D-Ocoee, after his amendment failed during debate on a bill that would arm teachers in schools.
Rep. Shevrin Jones, -D, West Park, gets a hand shake from Rep. Kamia Brown, D-Ocoee, after his amendment failed during debate on a bill that would arm teachers in schools.

By Samantha J. Gross and Elizabeth Koh: About a dozen groups protesting “anti-civil rights” bills on topics from immigration to school vouchers to restoration of felons voting rights briefly halted a House floor session Wednesday afternoon.

As the House took up a bill to create a state hemp program in Florida, two groups of protesters unfurled banners in the public galleries above the chamber and shouted at the lawmakers below. They were forcefully removed by the House sergeants. READ MORE.

Several dozen protesters interrupted debate in the Florida House on Wednesday. The groups were removed from the House by the Capitol Police.
Several dozen protesters interrupted debate in the Florida House on Wednesday. The groups were removed from the House by the Capitol Police.
A protester is handcuffed by Florida Capitol Police after interrupting a debate in the Florida House on Wednesday.
A protester is handcuffed by Florida Capitol Police after interrupting a debate in the Florida House on Wednesday.
Denise Diaz, Orlando, right, joined several dozen protesters in the Florida House.
Denise Diaz, Orlando, right, joined several dozen protesters in the Florida House.

Lawmakers say that school districts are not required to participate in Florida’s armed school guardian program. Several districts throughout Florida have already stated their opposition.

Opponents are questioning several aspects, mainly concerns over the risk students would face if a teacher were to react impulsively if feeling threatened.

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Rep. Byron Donalds, R- Naples, speaks in favor of a bill to arm teachers in public schools on the House floor. In the back is the bill sponsor Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, R- Mt. Dora. The bill passed the House.
Rep. Byron Donalds, R- Naples, speaks in favor of a bill to arm teachers in public schools on the House floor. In the back is the bill sponsor Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, R- Mt. Dora. The bill passed the House.
Rep. Cindy Polo, D- Miramar, reacts at her seat after giving an emotional speech against bill that would arm teachers in public schools.
Rep. Cindy Polo, D- Miramar, reacts at her seat after giving an emotional speech against bill that would arm teachers in public schools.
Rep. Robert Brannan, R- Lake City, a retired sheriffs officer from Baker County, is congratulated by Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, R- Mt. Dora, after speaking in favor of her bill which would arm teachers in public schools during debate on the House floor.
Rep. Robert Brannan, R- Lake City, a retired sheriffs officer from Baker County, is congratulated by Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, R- Mt. Dora, after speaking in favor of her bill which would arm teachers in public schools during debate on the House floor.
Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, R- Mt. Dora, reacts after her bill that will arm teachers in public schools passed the House.
Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, R- Mt. Dora, reacts after her bill that will arm teachers in public schools passed the House.