The Florida Senate passed an amendment, 20-18, to a school safety bill on Monday that would allow school staff members to carry firearms on campuses.
The amendment, proposed by Sen. Rene Garcia (R-Miami), would create a program for school personnel to carry guns, the Tampa Bay Times reported. State legislators rejected an amendment to the bill Saturday that would have banned assault weapons, such as the AR-15 used in the Parkland, Florida, school shooting last month.
Although the measure excludes most teachers, the bill does allow for teachers who are Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps educators, current military and law enforcement members to opt in.
“The goal is to make sure that those instructional personnel that are in the classroom cannot participate in the program,” Garcia said to the Times. “This is an opt-in program. … It’s dependent on the school district and the sheriff to determine if it participates in the program.”
Senate Bill 7026, also known as The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, will still have to pass in the state’s House and be signed by Republican Gov. Rick Scott before the legislative session ends Friday.
If passed, the bill would allow county sheriff’s offices to establish a Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, named for the Stoneman Douglas coach who died shielding students from gunfire.
Guardians would need to complete “132 hours of comprehensive firearm safety and proficiency training, pass psychological evaluation, submit to and pass drug tests; and complete certified diversity training.”
SB 7026 also addresses a number of reforms, including mental health programs, raising the legal age of firearm purchases to 21 and introducing a three-day waiting period for firearm sales.
The bill also includes a provision for more than $25 million to rebuild Building 12 at Stoneman Douglas High, where the shooting took place.
“We can never replace the 17 lives that were lost at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and we can never erase the traumatic experience that lives on in the memories of those who survived this horrific attack,” state Senate President Joe Negron (R-Stuart) said in a news release. “However, we will do everything we can to address the failure of government to effectively address the numerous warning signs that should have identified the perpetrator as a danger to others.”