A 458-page report by the commission established to investigate last year’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL was released last night, according to the Sun-Sentinel. The panel unanimously approved the report, which details the events that transpired at MSD on the day of the shooting, and recommends controversial measures to combat future attacks, including arming teachers.
The report carries many other recommendations, including allowing school districts to increase taxes in order to raise money for school security, and requiring mental health providers to notify authorities if a patient threatens anyone. The report also sharply criticizes law enforcement officials who failed to stop the attack.
“There needs to be a sense of urgency,” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, chairman of the commission, told the Sun-Sentinel. “And people need to understand that there’s an expectation and a rightful expectation on the part of parents: When you send your kids to school in the morning, there’s an expectation they’re going to come home alive in the afternoon and there are very basic things.”
Gualtieri also strongly supports of the idea of arming teachers.
“So what are we saying to people—we’re not going to allow you to defend yourself, we’re not going to allow you to defend the kids—why? Because of some ideology that we don’t like guns? Anyone who thinks they’re going to get rid of guns is crazy,” Gualtieri said. “It isn’t going to happen. We’ve got to do something differently and people should be able to protect themselves.”
Measures in the report will now be sent to Gov. Rick Scott, Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis, Florida Senate President Bill Galvano and House Speaker José Oliva. Galvano says that the recommendations will be considered in a meeting of the Senate Education Committee next Tuesday.
“I am committed to making sure our re-examination of school safety policies does not end with the legislation we passed last year,” he told the Sun-Sentinel.
Many students and teachers who have become gun control activists since the shooting vehemently disagree with the idea of arming teachers.
“As a student attending school in Florida, I am appalled that the commission that was established to make schools in our state safer is recommending teachers carry guns,” Juliana Simone Carrasco, a student and volunteer with Students Demand Action said, according to The Guardian. “I don’t want my teachers to be armed, I want my elected leaders to pass policies to keep guns out of the hands of people with dangerous intentions to begin with.”
A trial program that trains teachers in carrying weapons has already been put into affect. It’s called the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, named after a MSD coach who shielded students during the attack. MSD students strongly objected to the program being named after the coach. The Broward County School Board voted against the program.
The report recommends that Florida “expand the guardian program to allow teachers… to carry concealed firearms on campuses for self-protection, and the protection of other staff and students in response to an active assailant incident.”
Board members say it’s unlikely that the Broward County School Board will approve the recommendation this time around.
“I am very concerned about arming teachers,” school board member Robin Bartleman told the Sun-Sentinel. “I think it’s a discussion we need to have with the community. I have not found many people in favor of this. The overwhelming response I get is people don’t want teachers with guns.”