WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — A new law allowing US state of Florida school employees to carry concealed guns has divided school officials over the law’s provision that grants communities the right to choose whether to adopt the measure, Florida school officials told Sputnik.
“The proposal [law] lets school boards and superintendents decide whether to designate staff to carry weapons,” Pasco County Schools Director of Communications and Government Relations Linda Cobbe told Sputnik.
“Because of that provision, Pasco County Schools officials are not taking a position on the legislation. As long as the bill doesn’t require school districts to comply, we remain neutral,” Cobbe explained.
Bay District School Board Superintendent Bill Husfelt stated he is similarly divided over the issue as his concern is student and staff safety.
“I am interested in seeing the ‘qualifications’ for those who would be authorized,” Husfelt said. “While more weapons on the good guy’s side sounds good at first, I also know that inevitably we are exposing our students to possibly have access to those guns – even by a careless accident.”
“Only law enforcement officers should be allowed to carry firearms on public school campuses in Florida,” said.
The Florida Department of Education Public Information Officer Claudia Claussen told Sputnik that they “don’t comment on pending legislation.”
However, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence Chief Communications Officer Jonathan Hutson told Sputnik that Florida will in effect give conceal-to-carry permit to almost anyone.
“In Florida there are no background checks for guns bought online or at gun shows,” Hutson said. “Florida should do more to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people including a vigilante like George Zimmerman, who has a history of violence, and who used a concealed firearm to kill an unarmed student.
The new law, also known as HB 19, was passed by a panel of Florida representatives at the Florida House Education subcommittee on Wednesday.
HB 19 will allow qualified individuals with an military or law enforcement background to carry a firearm on Florida school premises, but will mandate that they receive a permit for carrying a concealed weapon in addition to obtain training from a law enforcement academy.