Florida teachers who wish to carry firearms on school premises were permitted to begin doing so on Tuesday under a state law passed in May in response to last year’s mass shooting in Parkland, Fla.
Teachers who wish to carry during school hours must participate through the Guardian Program, an initiative that trains teachers and other school personnel to assist in the event of a hostile shooting on school grounds.
“You know, until you’re standing in front of someone with a gun pointed at you, you don’t realize how helpless you really are,” said the superintendent for Bay County Schools, Bill Husfelt, who supports the program. “We don’t look at it as we want more guns, we look at it as we want more protection.”
Both school employees who volunteer with the Guardians Program and personnel hired for the specific purpose of guarding a school may participate. Participants must complete a psychological evaluation, drug screening, and at least 144 hours of training.
Eleven school districts have sought to arm teachers through the program thus far according to the Miami Herald, although 39 Florida counties are named as participants. The program was created as part of a law passed in response to the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, in which a student murdered 17 people.