Pensacola, Florida
Sunday November 23rd 2014

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Outtakes—A Little Common Sense, Please

State Senator Alan Hayes, R-Umatilla, wants more guns in Florida schools. His rationale is more guns in the hallways and classrooms will deter another Columbine High School or Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

Really?

His SB 968 would allow principals and school superintendents to appoint staff members or volunteers who are military veterans with honorable discharges, active duty military or retired law enforcement officials as gun-toting “designees.” These designees would carry concealed weapons with them at all times on school property.

To become a school marshal—my term, not Hays’—they would be required to have
40 hours of school-safety training and an additional 12 hours of special training annually, comprised of eight hours of active shooter training and four hours of firearm-proficiency training.

I’m not the only one who sees this is a bad idea. The Florida School Boards Association believes the better idea would be to have school resource officers, who are active law-enforcement officers, in every public school.

Who likes this bill? The National Rife Association, of course. Hays’ bill is similar to one the NRA promoted after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. that left 20 students and six adults dead.

Hays argues that his “School Safety” bill will add an element of surprise to those thinking about shooting up a Florida school.

“Part of our tactics here is to not let those perpetrators of evil, for them to think there’s no weapons at a school so I can go in there and not have any resistance,” said Hays. “They don’t know that there are going to be weapons there but neither do they know that there are not.”

Which argument prevailed in the Senate Criminal Justice Committee hearing?  Did the esteemed senators believe teachers and volunteers packing were a better option for public schools than trained law enforcement officers?  Who did they believe would make parents feel would better protect their children?

If you said the sheriff’s deputy or police officer, then you guessed wrong.  Hays won the debate and the Senate Criminal Justice Committee approved the controversial proposal by a 5-2 vote.  The vote was on the same day civil-rights leader Al Sharpton led a march protesting Florida’s “stand your ground” law.

Hays’ bill still has to be passed by the full senate and a companion bill has to make it through the Florida House.  If it passes both houses, then Governor Rick Scott will have to sign the bill before it can become law.

Let’s hope common sense will intercede somewhere along the way and kill this ludicrous bill.