Will teachers in your child's schools carry guns?

With teachers added to Guardian Program, each county must approve

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Under a law passed by the Florida Legislature and signed Wednesday by Gov. Ron DeSantis, willing teachers in the state's public schools who become certified can carry guns on campus, as long as it is approved by their county school board.

In Jacksonville Thursday morning to promote other school issues coming out of this year's legislative session, DeSantis addressed the controversial measure.

“I look at what happened in Parkland. If that person would’ve faced resistance, then this stuff may not have happened," DeSantis said.

The law expands the Guardian Program created last year which allowed non-teaching school staff to be trained to carry guns on campus. Teachers who volunteer to carry a gun must undergo a psychological evaluation, background check and complete 144 hours of training to receive certification.

The governor said training is the key.

“I would note that, in that bill there is more training required before you’re even certified as a guardian by the Jacksonville  Sheriff’s Office in terms of weapons,” DeSantis said. "We send people to Afghanistan who have not had 100 hours of training of firearms sometimes. That is just a reality.”

News4Jax asked area school districts where they stand on the use of the Guardian Program. Duval County uses a mixture of school board police and school safety assistants and is not considering using the Guardian Program. A Duval County Public Schools spokesperson sent the following statement:

"The provision in the law to arm teachers and other educators is optional, and Duval County Public Schools does not plan to use that option.

"We will continue to staff middle and high schools with police officers, and we will staff elementary schools with school safety assistants. School safety assistants are tasked only with security duties. They are fully trained by the Jacksonville Sheriff's office to carry out those tasks and fully trained to carry a firearm.

"We are also appreciative of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office for collaborating with us to provide officers as we work to fully staff our elementary schools with school safety assistants."

Neither Clay County nor St. Johns County is using guardians, only officers or security assistants.

We have done stories about Guardian Programs in Bradford, Nassau and Putnam counties, but they did not respond Thursday to the question about adding teachers to the program. Bradford's sheriff has said he supported arming willing teachers.

Baker County said it implement a Guardian Program for the next year but wouldn't say if teachers would be included.

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