Florida county school board votes against armed staff

Florida county school board votes against armed staff
AP Photo/ Rick Bowmer

We often talk about pro-gun states and anti-gun states. Florida tends to get labeled as pro-gun, though that status is often overstated by many.

However, the state does allow local school boards to determine whether or not staff members can be armed. It’s not as good as just mandating it at the state level or anything, but it’s better than nothing.


Yet it seems one relatively small Florida county opted not to allow staff to carry firearms.

Flagler County’s school board has spent months on end debating about whether to allow staff to carry guns on campus.

In a vote that surprised attendees at the school board meeting Tuesday, Flagler Public School’s board voted to not move forward with its Guardian Program. A couple of the Board members simply felt the District wasn’t ready to implement it.

The program would have allowed teachers and staff members who pass a background test and psychological test to go through 144 hours of training to become school Guardians. That means they’d be able to carry a concealed weapon on campus to respond in an emergency. Claudette O’Dowd, a member of Moms for Liberty who attended the meeting, was disappointed by the results of the vote.

The School Board seemed like the Guardian Program’s approval was on the horizon, but that changed when it came down to the vote.

“This school district is not ready to implement this program. There are some things that need to get in order first,” Board Member Sally Hunt stated.

So, in fairness to the school board, they’re not saying they won’t support it. They just think there are things they need to get straightened out first.

On the one hand, that’s fair.

I just hope the troubled kid in his sophomore year of high school is willing to grant them the time to get their ducks in a row before he decides to shoot up the school.


Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying such a kid exists or that anyone in the school system is that troubled. I simply don’t know.

The problem is, neither do they.

While they’re trying to get the stars to align, someone may be planning something horrific. By the time they’re ready, it might be too late.

If you don’t have an issue with the program–and some do–then delay doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

Now, as I said, some have arguments against the program.

Michael Cocchiola is an Army veteran and his daughter is a teacher.  He doesn’t feel 144 hours of training is enough.

“I’ve fired these things. And I’ve dealt with stressful situations. And there’s no situation where more guns added to a stressful situation helps the situation. It does not.”

I suspect Mr. Cocchiola’s military time wasn’t in a combat role. I say that only because I’m pretty sure when Iraqi insurgents or the Taliban are shooting at you, it’s a pretty stressful situation where having a gun helps.

As such, I’m pretty sure a school shooting like Parkland–also, of course, in Florida–would be a pretty stressful situation where the presence of another gun–this time in a teacher or staff member’s hands–would make the situation better.

What’s more, let’s talk about those 144 hours of training.


The military typically gets two to three weapons of weapons training. If you figure 40 hours per week of training, you’re only looking at 120 hours. Sure, you’re likely to get more down the line, but that’s the minimum we give people in the military, all of whom may find themselves in combat at some point or another.

We’re giving these teachers more.

According to Vox, police academies spend 110 hours on weapons training. They deal with a series of scenarios far more diverse than what a teacher or school staff member might face, yet they get 34 fewer hours than this program in Florida calls for.

So yeah, 144 hours is enough. More than enough.

But it doesn’t matter right now because the school board apparently thinks they have plenty of time to get things ready to approve the program.

I only hope they’re right.

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