Gun bill revisits school safety debate

in Uncategorized by

After drawing substantial debate in the 2014 legislative session, a lawmaker is revisiting the issue of allowing public-school employees and volunteers to carry guns on campus.

State Rep. Greg Steube filed HB 19 this week, a new proposal for consideration in the 2015 session.

The Sarasota Republican’s bill allows school superintendents, with support of local school boards, to authorize a “school safety designee” to bring concealed weapons on school property. Designees can be honorably discharged military veterans, active-duty military, National Guard or reserves, active-duty or former law-enforcement officers. The designee must have a license to carry a concealed weapon, complete a school-safety course and pass background checks.

According to the proposal, the Legislature does not require schools to have designees but says the intent of the Legislature is “to prevent violent crimes from occurring on school grounds.” The goal of the bill is “safe keeping of our students, teachers and campuses.”

Although the Florida House voted in April 2014 to support its version of the bill, the proposal failed to pass the Senate.

Florida should spend money on additional trained law-enforcement officers on campuses, as school resource officers, critics say, instead advancing the designee program.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.