Florida bill would allow coaches to carry guns on campus

March 6, 2018 / Athletic AdministrationCoaching
The latest proposal by Florida lawmakers in the wake the of massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School would put guns in the hands of coaches.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Nearly three weeks after a shooting at the school left 17 people dead, state legislators continue to debate the best way to protect kids. Discussion of arming teachers had picked up traction, but on Monday lawmakers relented. The latest proposal, approved by the Senate, would exempt full-time teachers but allow other personnel like librarians, counselors and coaches to carry guns.

Additionally, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act would raise the age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21, implement a three-day waiting period for most gun purchases, and ban the sale of bump stocks.

Roughly $67 million of the $400 million bill would be earmarked for the “school marshal” program that would allow on-campus personnel to carry guns. One lawmaker proposed naming it the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program. Feis was among those killed, and one student later told NBC News that the assistant football coach and security guard died shielding kids from gunfire. The school’s athletic director, Chris Hixon, also was killed.

From the Los Angeles Times:

The bill, which is being rushed through the Legislature before its session ends on Friday, would also provide additional funding for mental health services and give law enforcement officials more power to temporarily seize weapons and ammunition from people with mental health issues or threatening violence.

With Republicans controlling the House, it has a strong chance of passage there. Although Florida Gov. Rick Scott opposes the idea of arming teachers, he has not indicated whether he would veto the bill and call lawmakers back for a special session if it passes both chambers.

On-campus personnel who want to carry a weapon would be required to complete 132 hours of firearms training and 12 hours of diversity training. According to the Sun Sentinel, full-time teachers who also coach would be eligible to carry a gun.

The bill also includes $25 million to tear down the campus building where the shooting took place and rebuild a new facility, as well as $1 million to build a memorial to the victims. Additional funding also would be provided for mental health services.

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