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Florida teachers can legally keep firearms in the classroom, so long as their school district approves, under a law newly passed by Gov. Rick DeSantis inspired by the shooting deaths of 17 people at a Parkland school last year.
Teachers must pass a psychiatric evaluation and undergo 144 hours of police training in order to carry a weapon. The law expands an existing “guardian” program adopted following the shooting last February at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland; the program permitted only teachers who served in another capacity on campus – coaches, counselors, or other staff roles – to arm themselves, and did not allow guns inside actual classrooms.
Teachers in 40 of 67 Florida counties have either enrolled or are planning to sign up for firearms training under the new program, according to the speaker of the state house.
DeSantis fired Broward County Sherriff Scott Israel in January after a preliminary investigation into the Parkland shooting by a state commission found police and school officials’ incompetence largely to blame for the carnage. “This was the most preventable school shooting that I’ve ever seen data on,” Ryan Petty, a member of the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, told media following the report’s release.