Faith in Florida on School Gun Violence
March 7, 2018
In the aftermath of the school shooting at Douglas High School that claimed 17 lives. Parents, the community, and the survivors themselves all clamored loudly for one thing: gun control.
Despite the days of local and national actions that have followed, the Florida state legislature is proposing dangerous legislation that will put 10 armed teachers in every school who are prepared to respond to a mass shooter. Under the proposal, teachers who completed 132 hours of training could carry concealed weapons at school under the guidance of the county sheriff. There also would be a public records exemption to keep secret which teachers have guns. The measure was received with heavy dislike; an opinion poll released last Wednesday shows Florida voters oppose arming teachers by 56 percent to 40 percent.
The measure is part of a package that includes mitigating language like raising the age to buy all guns to 21, adding armed school resource officers, and spending more on mental health. But at its core, this radical measure excludes important reforms that Floridian families and communities are demanding, such as a ban on the sales of semi-automatic assault rifles - like the one used at Douglas High School. Instead, it includes scary legislation for arming teachers.
The idea of allowing teachers and administrators to carry firearms in school is absurd and irresponsible. Florida Legislature needs to get back to reality-based discussions about how to better protect kids, and neighborhoods, by stopping access to mass murder weapons.
Establishing teachers to carry guns makes them the defenders of our schools – we’re already asking teachers to try and work in classrooms that are already overcrowded and underfunded – now we want them to be armed and dangerous, and morally and legally responsible to be ready to shoot at any given moment. If something happens and the teacher could not respond timely, they become someone who didn't fulfill their duty and could be disciplined, prosecuted, sued, or worse.
Under this measure, schools will turn into an even more hostile and dangerous environment than what they are today. Tamir Rice, who was killed by police at age 12 while playing with a toy gun inevitably comes to mind. How long would it take for an armed teacher to be involved in a shooting with a student? Will our sons and daughter be safe?
Our schools deserve better than that. Faith in Florida supports the call for action on gun control and stands with those who are grieving these senseless acts of violence.
Our thoughts and prayers should go hand in hand with action on gun control from the Florida legislature. The lives of our children and communities are sacred. We demand that steps for gun control are taken immediately.
Please call your elected officials and let them know that people of faith and conscience oppose the idea of handing guns to our teachers instead of gun control across the board. You can find your elected officials here.
Director of Organizing
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The mission of Faith in Florida is to build a powerful, multi-cultural, non-partisan network of congregation community organizations in Florida that will address systemic racial and economic issues that cause poverty for our families. With multiple different religious denominations and faith traditions represented, Faith in Florida seeks to provide a prophetic, interfaith voice on rights restoration, immigrant justice and health care expansion. Faith in Florida is nonpartisan and is not aligned explicitly or implicitly with any candidate or party. We do not endorse or support candidates for office.
PICO National Network is the largest grassroots, faith-based organizing network in the United States. PICO works with 1,000 religious congregations in more than 200 cities and towns through its 60 local and state federations. PICO and its federations are non-partisan and do not endorse or support candidates for office. PICO urges people of faith to consult their faith traditions for guidance on specific policies and legislation. Learn more at www.piconetwork.org.