TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/AP) — A measure that would allow guns to be carried in school by people with special training has passed in the Florida House.

The bill (HB 753), sponsored by Sarasota Republican Greg Steube, was approved by a vote of 71-44.

The proposal gives public and private school principals the option to designate one or several school employees to carry concealed weapons on campus at all times. They would be required to complete the same training that’s required of security guards in addition to the statewide firearms training. Principals could also decline the concealed weapons option altogether.

Many Florida schools, especially elementary schools, aren’t protected by school resource officers due to insufficient funding, Steube said. Arming selected school staff is a reasonable approach, he added, because many shootings are over within five to 15 minutes, meaning law enforcement would be unlikely to reach many schools in time to intervene, especially in rural areas.

The bill’s opponents included groups representing Florida school boards and school administrators. Wayne Blanton, executive director of the Florida School Boards Association, said arming school staff would send the wrong message to impressionable students

This issue has been argued nationwide since school shootings at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary, Virginia Tech University, Columbine High School in Colorado and others. One side believes armed officials are better equipped to handle emergency situations. The other argues that more guns in schools increases the odds of something happening.

Supporters stressed that each school district has the choice using the legislation.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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