Most Floridians say they support trained staff carrying firearms on school campuses, according to a new survey released Tuesday.
The 2016 University of South Florida Sunshine State Survey found more than half of adult Floridians (56 percent) are in favor of allowing trained staff to carry firearms at schools.
Forty percent of Floridians say they are opposed to allowing firearms in schools, with 29 percent saying they are strongly opposed to the idea.
“Stronger supporters are males, working-age residents, whites, those living in affluent households, college graduates, and residents of the Orlando and North Florida areas,” the USF release said. Residents of the Orlando and North Florida areas are more likely to favor the idea.
Opposition comes from females, older Floridians, African-Americans, lower-income households, those with less formal education and residents of the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area.
The issue of allowing guns into schools has been a hot-button topic in Florida. State representatives have tried for years to allow firearms on school campuses, whether on college campuses or in elementary and secondary schools.
Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, proposed a bill earlier this year to allow trained staff to allow concealed carry in kindergarten through 12th grade school facilities.
In 2015, Steube introduced a proposal which would have allowed for the superintendents of school districts to authorize “school safety designees” to carry guns on elementary school and secondary school campus grounds. Not everyone would have been able to qualify as a designee -- only those who passed level two background checks and met specific training requirements dictated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement would have been able to be designees.
The bill weaved its way through the Florida House during the 2015 legislative session, but its path was not as smooth in the Florida Senate, where it died in the Education Pre-K through 12 subcommittee.
Steube’s proposal raised questions on whether schools are truly a safe zone for children and staffers. In 2012, a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut left many wondering what would have happened had there been armed staff on campus.
Florida gun groups say they are onboard with training school staff to respond to violence at schools.
Sean Caranna of Florida Carry told Sunshine State News his group is working to bring the FASTER (Faculty / Administrator Safety Training & Emergency Response) program to Florida. The FASTER program is a 26-hour hands-on training program which would supply trained staff with firearms and medical treatment to schools. The program is already being instituted in Ohio.
“I expect that we will have more details about when and where it will be piloted in Florida in coming months,” Caranna told SSN.
To see the full poll results, click here.