TALLAHASSEE – State Rep. Greg Steube filed a bill that would allow a school principal to designate one or more members of school personnel to carry a concealed firearm or weapon while performing his or her official duties.
The bill seeks to enhance safety measures in Florida schools and provide students with a safe learning environment, according to a press release from Steube's office. “We are all deeply concerned about the well-being of our children and we must come to a consensus on how to prevent violent crimes from occurring on school grounds," Steube said in a news release. "As a father and a son of a teacher, I feel a responsibility to my community and my state to address the safety of our students and teaching personnel. With this bill, schools will be better equipped to protect their faculty and students. The safekeeping of our schools is imperative."
Steube's father, Manatee Sheriff Brad Steube, expressed reservations about the proposal.
Sheriff Steube, who favors placing a trained deputy in each school, hasn't yet thoroughly read his son's bill, but said Thursday to earn his stamp of approval it would need "a heck of a lot of guidelines."
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"I knew Greg would write something because he called me and we discussed some things," Steube said Thursday. "I told him the same things I am telling you. You want a physically fit man or woman who can run from one side of the school to the other. Will the bill stipulate that? You want to make it so there is constant training on the part of this person and trips to the gun range for practice. You want someone to show proficiency shooting at least once a year. I am not sure that is in the new bill, either." Under the proposed legislation, House Bill 1079, the designated personnel who carry a firearm would have to complete training and coursework that covers emergency procedures, life safety, methods of prevention, terrorism awareness and firearm proficiency to ensure they are prepared to respond appropriately in the event that a threat arises on campus.
Also, the bill would require each school to have a school safety officer present on campus, unless the principal has already designated a member of school personnel to carry a weapon or firearm on that campus.
Two teachers at Braden River High School had tepid reactions when hearing about the proposal.
Math teach Tracy Harwood said she finds designating staff to have firearms to be too controversial of an issue.
“It is scary to think about having a gun in my desk,” she said.
"I have a concealed weapons permit, but I don't feel it is necessary for teachers to have guns on campus," said engineering teacher David Sheppard. He said he armed resource officers at Braden River High suffice for security.
School board chair Karen Carpenter said she feels the bill would burden school staff with responsibilities meant for law enforcement, but she said she understands Steube's intent to protect children.