After the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, there has been renewed interest in allowing properly trained teachers and school staff to carry concealed weapons with them at work. However, the idea often doesn’t align with state law, including the state where the tragedy occurred, and one sheriff is working toward a solution through a special program.
Florida law prevents someone from carrying a firearm onto school property unless they are law enforcement, so the Polk County Sheriff’s Department created a program to help school staffers obtain the necessary requirements.
The Sentinel Program, which Webber International University just joined and Southeastern University was already involved with, allows teachers and other school staff members to become “special deputies,” giving them the ability to carry a gun on campus.
“We’re gonna send the message to those people that you’re not coming onto campus being the only person on campus with a firearm,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd on Wednesday, according to a report by Fox 13. “Gun control is clearly in place on school campuses in the state of Florida. How did that work last week in Broward County?”
Participants in The Sentinel Program will be required to go through training, an experience that, according to the sheriff’s office, is more intense than what many deputies experience.
“Everyone just has to ask themselves that question: My babies, your babies, are in that classroom and that active shooter is coming down the hallway with that thousand-yard stare and that gun in their hand; do you want somebody to step out and stop him? Or do you want him to go into the classroom and slaughter your babies?” Judd added.
“That’s where we are with this issue today.”
President Donald Trump has expressed support for arming teachers, though said on Saturday that the decision should be “up to states.”
“Armed Educators (and trusted people who work within a school) love our students and will protect them,” said Trump on Twitter. “Very smart people. Must be firearms adept & have annual training. Should get yearly bonus. Shootings will not happen again – a big &very inexpensive deterrent. Up to States.”