After about seven hours of angry, sometimes deeply painful debate about race and gun violence that spanned two days, the Florida House passed a bill Wednesday that would allow classroom teachers to be armed, expanding a program lawmakers created last year after the Parkland shooting.
The debate reached emotional heights that had Democrats shouting or tearing up as black lawmakers delved into details about their personal experiences with racism and their deep-seated fears about minority children being targeted by teachers who have guns.
The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Ron DeSantis, who expressed early support for it. For teachers and other staff to be armed, school districts must opt-in to the so-called “Guardian program,” which allows teachers and other staff to volunteer to carry a gun on campus after undergoing screening and training by a local sheriff’s office.
The Miami-Dade County school district has agreements with local agencies to staff every school with a sworn officer. Voters in November overwhelmingly approved a property tax hike that provided funding to hire more officers for the district’s own police department to staff schools.