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Florida Senate passes bill expanding armed teachers program

School safety bill passes 22-17

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Senate passed a bill Tuesday that will expand a program that allows some teachers to carry guns in schools.

SB 7030 passed 22-17, making changes to a law enacted last year after 17 people were killed by a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

"I am very pleased to see this critical school safety legislation pass the Senate today," Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, said.

Galvano, who sponsored the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act of 2018, said the bill further addresses the recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission.

"When we established this commission last year, I made a commitment to take these recommendations seriously," Galvano said. "This legislation continues our efforts to proactively enhance coordination between education, law enforcement and community mental health resources to ensure at-risk students receive the help they need before a tragedy occurs."

While the bill addresses several school safety issues, the most contentious is a provision that makes all teachers eligible for the "guardian program" that allows them to carry guns in schools. Right now, only staff who have a role outside the classroom, such as an athletic coach, can participate.

School districts would have to approve participation in the program and teachers would have to volunteer, undergo psychological evaluations and be trained by a sheriff's office.