TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – Tuesday, October 1 marks the first day armed teachers will be allowed in Florida classrooms. This is a result of the Guardian Program, which allows certain school personnel or hired guards to be armed on school grounds.
The Guardian Program had allowed some staff and coaches to carry guns on campus after a background check, psychological exam and more than 140 hours of range training, but Florida legislators voted to extend it to teachers if their school district approves. This comes after 17-people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018.
According to the Education Commission of the States, Florida joins eight other states that have laws allowing some teachers to carry guns on campus.
Critics include family members whose loved ones died in last year’s Parkland shooting, like Tony Montalto and Debbi Hixon. Montalto lost his daughter Gina and Hixon’s husband Chris was the school’s athletic director.
“Teachers should not be burdened whether they think they want to or not with the responsibility of worrying about carrying a firearm,” Hixon said.
They argue that mental health programs and responsible firearm ownership are better deterrents to mass shootings and that armed personnel should remain outside the classroom.
Some critics also say the state lacks oversight over the program, including ensuring their training is sufficient.
In Florida, the Department of Education reports 36 of the state’s 67 districts are participating. However, the state’s largest school districts, including Miami-Dade and Orlando, have opted out of the program, choosing to rely on armed police officers instead.