Now that former Parkland, FL, cop and Marjory Stoneman Douglas resource office Scot Peterson has been arrested for failing to confront gunman Nicolas Cruz during the 2018 mass shooting, a new wrinkle has arisen in the ongoing effort to arm school employees: What happens if a teacher packing heat doesn’t step up to stop another attack?
According to the Florida Republican who sponsored a bill—which is now state law—allowing teachers to carry guns in the classroom, they too could be open to criminal prosecution for not engaging in a firefight with a school shooter.
“Whether it’s involving a firearm or not, if there’s an employee who did not do everything in their power to protect students in that situation they would be open up to facing those kinds of charges,” Florida state Sen. Manny Diaz told the Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday.
To be clear, Diaz, who is chair of the Florida Senate Education Committee, is essentially admitting teachers could potentially be held criminally liable if they don’t return fire during a chaotic school shooting situation.
Diaz hedged somewhat, adding that, “It’s really up to a prosecutor to find where that line where a person has crossed where (failing one’s) employment duties has to pass into criminal.” He also admitted “clarity” is still needed on this point.
Florida’s teacher’s union, which opposed the law, is not thrilled with the possibility that their members might soon be faced with what seems like a lose-lose situation.
“What responsibility do you then have as a volunteer who is saying, ‘I’m going to arm myself?’” Florida Education Association President Fedrick Ingram told the Times. “How far does that responsibility go? That’s a thought process our teachers should not be faced with.”