Teachers are closer to being able to carry a gun in classrooms after the Florida Senate passed a bill Tuesday.
The “school guardian” bill, SB 7030, passed 22-17. The bill would expand the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian program, allowing in-classroom teachers to join the list of those who can volunteer to be trained to have a gun on school campuses. The bill still needs to be approved by the House before it moves to the governor to be signed into law.
State Sen. Keith Perry, whose district includes Alachua County, voted yes on the bill and said much of the opposition comes from a misunderstanding of the bill.
“It just allows flexibility for school districts to take this opportunity if they’d like,” he said.
The last action of the connected House of Representatives bill, HB 7093, was postponed April 3.
The guardian program allows teachers who work outside of the classroom, such as physical education teachers, to be armed if trained.
School districts can opt out of the program, but if they decide to participate, then teachers who volunteer will have to undergo psychological evaluations and be trained by their local sheriff’s office.
Last year, when the original school guardian bill, SB 7026, was passed, Alachua County Public School board members opted out of the program.
The school district will still not participate in the program if teachers are allowed to carry a gun, said Jackie Johnson, the school district spokesperson.
“It’s a burden they didn’t sign up for,” Johnson said.
Lauren Herwitz (center), an 18-year-old UF Health Science and theater freshman and March For Our Lives Gainesville member, protests Florida Senate Bill 7030, which would allow teachers to carry firearms in case of an active shooter, Wednesday afternoon. “I’m almost in tears, this is just incredibly powerful and emotional," she said.