DeSantis signs bill to arm teachers

Florida teachers can legally keep firearms in the classroom, so long as their school district approves, under a law newly passed by Gov. Rick DeSantis inspired by the shooting deaths of 17 people at a Parkland school previous year.

On Wednesday, DeSantis received and signed the bill, which was passed by Florida lawmakers on May 2.

School districts in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties have all said they would not comply with the new legislation.

The controversial measure, SB 7030, is an extension of the guardian program put in place after the February 14, 2018, Parkland massacre in which 17 high school students and staff were killed.

A school board must vote "by a majority to implement a guardian program", giving them ultimate authority in the matter.

The bill goes into effect on October 1.

Volunteers must undergo police-style training and a psychiatric evaluation.

The new law expands the program to make all teachers eligible regardless of whether they have a non-classroom role.

The Orange, Seminole and Osceola School Districts originally opted to hire additional armed law enforcement personnel instead of allowing faculty and staff to carry on school grounds. According to the Sun Sentinel, 25 of Florida's 67 school districts already take part in the program.

Democrats spent hours arguing against the bill, saying it could lead to accidental shootings, or that a teacher could panic and fire during a confrontation with students.

The measure also contains a number of other school safety measures, such as wider disclosure of certain student mental health records and mental screening of troubled students.

  • Jon Douglas