On the eve of the 6th year anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre, where a gunman equipped with a military-style assault rifle and other weapons took the lives of 20 first grade children and six educational professionals, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Safety Commission (MSD Safety Commission) released its school safety recommendations calling for the arming of teachers. In response to the MSD Safety Commission Report, the Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence issued this statement:
“Yesterday’s vote of 13-1 by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission recommending that the Florida Legislature allow the arming of teachers is just what we and other advocates predicted would happen as the response to how can we better secure our schools.
“We believe that arming teachers is, for many reasons, a bad idea. For example, there are liability issues, increased costs to school districts, workplace shootings, and the threat of unintentional gun discharges (which we continue to see) that school districts must confront if school personnel are armed. Intense training is needed to confront an active shooter – and without harming any other people – in buildings filled with staff, students and visitors. Conversely, unarmed school staff have stopped more active shooters than civilians with guns, according to FBI data.
“Instead of arming teachers, whose only job should be to teach our children, we call on the Legislature and Governor-Elect DeSantis to allocate proper and recurring funding for programs that include much-needed counseling and intervention services for young people along with de-escalation techniques and better environmental designs for Florida’s schools. In many instances where mass shootings occur, the perpetrator had a connection to the location, and that running theme can be addressed with intervention programs. Finally, there needs to be a discussion about easy access to weapons – especially military-style assault weapons, which the MSD shooter used and is the choice of mass shooters in America. The solution to violence in our schools cannot be adding more guns.”
The Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence was formed after the Pulse shooting to promote smart gun legislation. It has grown to include more than 120 local, state, and national organizations and includes such diverse groups as The Campaign To Keep Guns Off Campus, Hispanic Federation, the Florida PTA, Equality Florida, the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, and Doctors for America.