Run, Hide and Let Law Enforcement Fight

In May of this year, Florida’s House of Representatives passed a bill so controversial that a clear line of sides was drawn. The bill was already approved by the state’s Senate and will now permit classroom teachers to carry guns … in school. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has signed the bill and teachers can carry guns. It’s the law.

Republicans favor the bill, citing a commission’s recommendation to allow teachers to be armed. Following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018, this panel studied the concept of arming educators.

State Sen. Oscar Braynon (D) cited his concerns about bringing guns to campuses in areas that are already flooded with firearms. Braynon’s district includes part of Broward and Miami- Dade counties.

“I unfortunately have to deal with parents who have lost children often because this gun violence is prevalent in my community,” said Braynon, who voted against the bill. “A gun being in a classroom, however it is that they’re planning to do it … just the concept brings a different environment for those children.”

In a similar fashion, Utah is one of 14 states where teachers can carry a gun at school. Following the shooting that killed 17 people in Parkland, Rowdy’s Range, I n Hurricane, UT, started offering the class – which normally costs almost $800 – is free of charge to teachers.

One of the Utah course instructors, Brett Pruitt, 38, believes that teachers have the right to be armed if they choose: “We give our children to educators for four to six hours a day and trust them with their safety. My personal opinion is we should give them the means to [keep those children safe].”

The lines of pro and con are pretty clearly drawn. Like just about anything these days, the debate of arming teachers is highly charged and most often emotional. How would you feel if your child’s teacher had a gun in the classroom? Would you feel better or feel that your child is more protected?

Utah law allows licensed gun owners to bring their concealed weapons in public schools, and is one of several states in the country, including Florida and Texas, to do so.

“If teachers are going to be bringing firearms into schools, let’s make sure they know how to handle them safely,” said Utah County Sheriff Mike Smith.

I thought a lot about this in late August as I took my granddaughter to her first day of school. While most parents are as excited as any child would be, I walked into the school looking for security solutions and devices. A teacher or administrator carrying a gun never crossed my mind. I do think, however, we should start with the basics. Close and lock the doors. When someone comes to the school, let’s keep that person in a vestibule or the office until credentials can be verified.

Schools, or more particularly, teachers in a school is no place for a weapon, even if that person has undergone firearms training. I trust school resource officers with a gun, and they should have them. I’m completely in favor of teachers doing what they do best … teaching, to include how to react if an active shooter is on campus. All respect to teachers nationwide, but I would never expect a classroom professional to be the one to fire a weapon. Let’s teach the student to run or hide and allow law enforcement to fight back.

This article originally appeared in the September/October 2019 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.