Stoneman Douglas Shooting Commission Calls for Arming Teachers

A police officer directs traffic as student arrive for the first day of classes at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., August 15, 2018. (Joe Skipper/Reuters)

The state commission tasked with investigating last February’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. recommended certain teachers be permitted to carry firearms during the school day in an extensive report released Wednesday.

The 458-page report identifies numerous security failures by school administrators and the Broward County Sheriff’s Department that ultimately contributed to the deaths of 17 people at the hands of student Nikolas Cruz last February.

The commission found that school administrators failed to properly identify the threat posed by the 17-year-old Cruz despite his frequently exhibiting violent tendencies throughout his time in the school district. It also faulted a number of sheriff’s deputies who had a chance to prevent further loss of life after arriving on the scene but hesitated to enter the school.

The report includes a range of recommendations for the state legislature and governor, as well as individual school districts and law-enforcement agencies.  Central among those recommendations is the suggestion that some teachers be permitted to carry firearms and that more state funding be appropriated to school security.

The commission also calls for individual school districts to be permitted raise taxes to fund security enhancements and suggests that mental-health providers should be legally obligated to report patients who threaten violence to the authorities.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who chaired the commission, spoke out in support of the plan to arm teachers in remarks made after the release of its report.

“So what are we saying to people — we’re not going to allow you to defend yourself, we’re not going to allow you to defend the kids? Why? Because of some ideology that we don’t like guns? Anyone who thinks they’re going to get rid of guns is crazy,” Gualtieri told the Sun Sentinel. “It isn’t going to happen. We’ve got to do something differently and people should be able to protect themselves.”

Florida Senate president Bill Galvano said that many of the recommendations included in the report would be taken up at a Senate Education Committee meeting on Tuesday. Galvano added that the Committee would examine the proposal to arm teachers and suggested that recommendation could be implemented by expanding the existing School Guardians Program, which provides funding to train school security officers.

“I am committed to making sure our re-examination of school-safety policies does not end with the legislation we passed last year,” Galvano said in a statement.

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