Broward County Won’t Allow Teachers to Be Armed Despite New Law

A police officer directs traffic as student arrive for the first day of classes at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., August 15, 2018. (Joe Skipper/Reuters)

Broward County, Fla., where 17 people were killed last year in a shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, will not allow its public schools to arm their teachers despite a law signed by Governor Ron DeSantis this week that allows teachers trained to carry firearms to do so.

Broward Schools superintendent Robert Runcie panned the new law after it passed the Florida legislature this week, saying that arming teachers would contribute to making schools an “unsafe environment.”

“We do not want to create a psychological impact on our children knowing their teachers have guns, nor create stress on our teachers as they deal with more non-instructional duties,” Runcie said in a recorded robocall aimed at parents. “Arming teachers will create an unsafe environment, and many in law enforcement agree. We do not believe arming teachers is the best way to make our schools safe.”

DeSantis, the Republican who took over as Florida’s governor earlier this year, signed the controversial law Wednesday. The law expands an existing “guardian” program to allow properly trained and vetted teachers to carry guns in the classroom if their school districts approve. Teachers who wish to carry guns in class must pass a psychological test and a drug screening, participate in at least 144 hours of police-style training, and receive the green light from law enforcement. The law also standardizes the risk-assessment process for problematic students, enhances reporting of school-safety incidents, and proposes guidelines for addressing mental health at school.

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“It allows the good guys to stop the bad. The bad guys will never know when the good guys are there to shoot back,” said Republican state representative Chuck Brannan of Lake City, a retired law-enforcement officer, of the law. “The guardian is the last line of defense. He or she will be there when a police officer is not.”

Runcie was heavily criticized for his handling of the Valentine’s Day shooting last year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 students and adults were gunned down and 17 others injured by a disturbed former student, the deadliest high school shooting in the country’s history.

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