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Politics

House Passes Bill to Allow Guns in Schools

April 27, 2014 - 6:00pm

A bill to allow guns in Florida schools made it through the Florida House on Monday, passing with a vote of 71-44.

Legislators voted mostly on party lines.

HB 753, sponsored by Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, would allow local school boards or school principals to designate employees -- typically former or current law enforcement officers -- to carry guns on campus.

HB 753 would require trained officials to complete 40 hours of school safety training as well as eight hours of active shooter training and four hours of firearm proficiency training. The training programs would be administered across the state by State of Florida Criminal Justice Training Centers.

According to the bill, the Criminal Justice Training Center must certify and provide proof of the designee's completion of the training in a manner prescribed by the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission.

On top of the safety training, all officials would also be required to have a concealed carry permit.

Not just anyone would be able to carry firearms in schools. The designees would have to be select military. Those who served as law enforcement officials would need to have retired in good standing and would need to complete a mental evaluation to ensure they're mentally sound for the job.

The bill has gathered considerable criticism from its opponents, one of whom is the Florida School Board Association. FSBA has said it supports school safety, but allowing guns in schools is shaky ground for the organization.

FSBA believes that only highly trained professional law enforcement officers can be entrusted with weaponry on our school grounds, said school board representative Ruth Melton.

Some state reps chimed in with their opposition to the bill, saying it might give school officials the wrong idea about just how safe they are.

Rep. Dwayne Taylor, D-Daytona Beach, said HB 753 might provide a "false sense of security" for schoolteachers.

The legislation will now head to the Senate, but its fate is uncertain as its companion bill has been held up since March.


Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen at Allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter at @AllisonNielsen.

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