Armed teachers may soon become a reality in Florida. On Tuesday, the state House Appropriations Committee approved a statewide "school marshal" program in which local law enforcement would train teachers to carry guns on campus, the St. Petersburg Times reports.The state Senate Appropriations Committee approved a similar bill later in the day. Superintendents or school boards would need to approve of their schools taking part in the marshal program; the goal is for 10 marshals—the name given to the armed teachers—at every school. The House decision came even as residents of Parkland, where a school shooting claimed 17 lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, voiced fervent opposition to it, with classmates and family members of the victims speaking out during an hours-long hearing.
The presence of armed teachers at schools "could easily cause additional chaos and fatalities," said Linda Beigel Schulman, whose son, geography teacher Scott Beigel, died in the Parkland shooting. If a school comes under attack from a shooter, "with the ongoing chaos, law enforcement could unintentionally shoot at a teacher," she said, adding that her son became a teacher to teach, "not to be a law enforcement officer." The marshal program was just one part of a House bill that also calls for a school resource officer in every school, improved mental health counseling, safer public school buildings, a three-day waiting period for gun purchases, increased power for police to take guns from those who pose a threat, and an increase in the minimum age to buy a gun from 18 to 21. The House and Senate proposals still need approval from the state's full chambers, plus Gov. Rick Scott, the Miami Herald reports.