In a development that is jarring for many sympathetic hearts, the Florida state Senate has passed its version of a bill that will allow for teachers to carry guns on campus. For the many who have been pushing ardently for stricter gun restrictions this is a stark contradiction to the activism that has been forwarded. The idea of educators packing in classrooms originates from a sound and sober source.
The gun debate raged long and loud in 2018, surely the result of the emotional jolt that was the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland Florida. Students became activists, media outlets became PR firms, and politicians became arms experts overnight as the wave of gun-control advocacy swept the nation. This led to many new gun laws in various states.
In Florida this was also the case, as a number of new control measures were passed in Tallahassee. Bump-stocks were banned, even though one was not used in the shooting. Tougher “red flag” standards, to remove potentially dangerous purchasers from being approved, were passed even though it was found that past incidents of the shooter which should have been sent to the federal database had not been reported.
One of the more controversial new laws was elevating the legal age to purchase a long gun from 18 years old to 21 years of age. There continue to be challenges to this new standard. As is frequently the case, legislation that is passed during an emotional fervor frequently leads to problems and challenges. This was amplified in Tallahassee due in part because students and parents became especially vocal and sympathetic in the aftermath.
What needs to be pointed out however is that while, in the months following the Parkland shooting, it appeared there was a massive groundswell of anti-gun bias, (at least in the state) this was a distortion created by the media. David Hogg and a wide number of student activists were granted all manner of press facetime, and it looked as if momentum was in place to affect significant changes.
As the year extended and the hysteria calmed, there were more sober voices calling out for actual safety measures to be implemented in our school and for laws that address societal safety. The problems leading to the shooting have been exposed to have been institutional, not gun-inspired. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel won the Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for its coverage of the various authority failures leading to and following the shooting. Guns were not the cause, is the eventual conclusion arrived at, over time.
Then last November the findings from a bipartisan commission investigating the shooting and studying remedies for the future was released. Listed among numerous conclusions was one that declared had teachers been armed on campus that day it could have possibly negated some of the casualties. The bill that is moving through the legislature would allow teachers, who are willing, to carry on campus on a voluntary basis. Individuals interested would need to pass a psychological check, and then go through training of over 140 hours. Also, the local school district would have to approve the proposal. To date it is estimated that 25 districts have indicated they would allow the measure in their regions.
The press, as expected, has been rather slanted in its coverage. The Miami Herald — which usually describes Florida as “The Gunshine State” — notes how the bill is opposed by the Parkland students. Yahoo News, in a very misrepresentative headline, suggests that carrying a gun will become part of the hiring process. And Newsweek, straining to give all gun control advocates their forum on this issue, has one gun-nabber quoted thusly; “Today Florida didn’t just pass a bill to arm teachers, we signed death certificates for kids of color.”
It would be corse for me to point out that this type of hyperbolic language is probably what undermines the anti-gun lobby. It would also be accurate.