Anti-gun violence activists are making a last-minute push against a Florida bill that could mean more teachers are armed in the classroom.
The Florida legislature passed the bill, which expands on an existing law in the state, by a margin of 65-47 Wednesday. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is expected to sign the the bill into law.
The legislation comes a little more than a year after the Parkland shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, Florida, which left 17 people dead. Many students who survived the attack have criticized the new law to arm teachers in recent days.
In an opinion piece published in The Miami Herald late Thursday, Lauren Hogg and Ryan Deitsch — two students who survived the shooting — spoke out against the bill.
“The governor’s imminent decision to sign this disastrous bill into law would not protect students and does not create a safe environment for students to learn,” they wrote. “Instead, it does the opposite. It takes us one step closer to turning schools into prison-like settings, where teachers are given guns supposedly to protect us — rather than given tools to teach.”
Others spoke out on Twitter, calling on their hundreds of thousands of collective followers to push back.
🚨FLORIDA WE NEED YOUR HELP🚨
The governor is about to sign a bill to arm teachers call and demand he NOT sign bill 7030 because teachers need #BooksNotBullets
— David Hogg (@davidhogg111) May 2, 2019
“[T]eachers need #BooksNotBullets,” activist and Parkland survivor David Hogg tweeted ahead of the bill’s signing.
LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE WHO ARE AFFECTED BY THIS, THOSE IN THE LEGISLATURE DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING TO US https://t.co/90DYwsLAlq
— Emma González (@Emma4Change) May 2, 2019
“LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE AFFECTED BY THIS, THOSE IN THE LEGISLATURE DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING TO US,” said Emma González, another survivor.
Activists with Moms Demand Action, an anti-gun violence group, also decried the legislation.
“Armed teachers have no place in our kids’ classrooms,” Gay Valimont, a volunteer leader with the group’s Florida chapter, said in a statement.
“The risks of arming teachers are well documented, as is the research indicating there are much better ways to keep our kids safe in school. We implore Gov. DeSantis to listen to Floridians and veto this risky bill. We will remember which lawmakers stand on the side of public safety at this critical time.”
If the bill is signed into law, it would be up to the district to approve whether teachers can carry guns. Educators who want to carry, known as “guardians,” will undergo police-style training, psychiatric evaluation, and drug screening.
The new bill expands on a law passed last year that allowed teachers who also have another role in the school — like sports coaches — to arm themselves on campus.
“It allows the good guys to stop the bad. The bad guys will never know when the good guys are there to shoot back,” Florida Rep. Chuck Brannan (R) said of the law, according to CBS. “The guardian is the last line of defense. He or she will be there when a police officer is not.”
Most Democrats voted against the bill, which was also opposed by teacher’s unions. According to a 2018 National Education Association poll, 82% of teachers say they would not carry a gun in school and 61% of teachers who are also gun owners oppose the idea of arming teachers in schools. Two-thirds of teachers surveyed said they would not feel safe if teachers were allowed to carry guns.
As ThinkProgress previously reported, research has shown repeatedly that guns in schools are likely to have the opposite affect from what Brannan and others describe and will likely make schools more dangerous.
As CBS reported, Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony, who was appointed by DeSantis, said in a letter last week that he opposes arming teachers.
“This program would place students, teachers, and first responders at risk, when our focus should be on keeping our children safe and making schools places where students feel they belong,” he wrote. “Teachers enter that profession to educate children, not to serve as school security.”