FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – The Stoneman Douglas Commission voted 13-1 on Wednesday to recommend that qualified teachers who volunteer to carry guns on campus be allowed to do so.
“The more people we have appropriately trained and appropriately equipped after their appropriately selected the safer the kids are because we have to get there in seconds,” said Commission Member Grady Judd, Sheriff of Polk County.
The idea is a controversial one and it came up repeatedly after the February 14th shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 dead and 17 others injured.
Commission Chair Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said the shooting at MSD proved to him that selected teachers who undergo background checks and extensive training can stop a school shooter.
He said this needs to a targeted program.
“It’s not just this en masse, ‘Oh if anybody wants a gun, have one,’” Gualtieri said. “That’s not what I’m saying. And it’s so important that people understand that.”
Gualtieri points to the fact that confessed shooter Nikolas Cruz stopped and reloaded his weapon numerous times as evidence that a teacher with a gun could have possibly prevented some of the bloodshed. Commissioner Ryan Petty, whose daughter Alaina died in the shooting, said he supports the idea of recommending to the Florida legislature the idea of arming willing, trained teachers.
“I can’t get out of my head the visual of those teachers huddled in those classrooms at MSD with no ability to protect themselves or those students,” Petty told CBS4 News.
Petty said there are not enough school resource officers and armed guardians to go around and he — and other Commissioners — want restrictions lifted on the armed guardian program allowing willing teachers to be trained to carry guns on campus.
But Commissioner Max Schachter, whose son Alex died at the school, was the lone dissenting vote on the issue on the Commission.
“I don’t think teachers should be carrying guns,” Schachter said. “I think they have enough on their plate. I think their priority is teaching, It just creates a host of more problems.”
In the past Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie has said he does not believe in arming teachers.
The state teachers union agrees with Runcie as do a number of the parents of Parkland victims, saying a better idea is to focus on protecting campuses and keeping bad guys off school grounds.