The Feb. 14 mass shooting at a Broward County high school changed the conversation at the Capitol. The deadly shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, which left 17 dead and 14 more hospitalized, forced lawmakers to debate gun legislation and school safety.
Gov. Rick Scott has proposed a $500 million plan that he claims will make schools safer. The plan consists of:
- Putting a law enforcement officer in every public school in Florida, with one officer per every 1,000 students by the 2018 school year.
- Increased Safe Schools funding to provide metal detectors, bulletproof glass, and steel doors.
- Hiring of more mental health counselors to serve every student at school that can't serve dual roles, such as teachers or coaches.
- Department of Children and Families caseworkers assigned to all 67 county sheriffs in Florida; a law requiring all people buying firearms to be 21 or older.
- An increase in gun purchase restrictions for those who have been committed under the Baker Act.
- Empowering the courts to prevent people from getting guns based on sworn petition of a threat of violence, this new program, Violent Threat Restraining Order, will allow police to remove fire arms from those who are mentally ill.
- Mandatory active shooter drills in all Florida schools by the fall 2018 semester.
- A new "See Something, Say Something" hotline, website and mobile app.
Though many citizens in Florida have insisted on banning assault rifles, which have been used in the majority of mass shootings, Scott did not include that in his plan. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Scott told reporters that, "Banning specific weapons and punishing law-abiding citizens is not going to fix this.”
Following this, the Florida Senate has rejected a ban on assault weapons, while voting on a bill to arm teachers.
Demetrius Cole, a third grade team leader at Oak Ridge Elementary in Tallahassee, does not believe arming teachers is the answer.
“There shouldn’t be that much responsibility put on the teacher,” he said. “They don’t get paid enough.”
He brought up the “Georgia situation” that occurred recently where a teacher discharged a firearm in a school. “I think you leave the guns in the hands of law enforcement,” Cole said.
Kereena Gordon, a FAMU grad who now teaches middle school in Miami-Dade County, said, “I feel like Governor Rick Scott’s plan could be beneficial but I do believe a ban on assault weapons would make Florida schools a safer place.”