The debate on arming teachers can get emotional. Here’s what you need to know

It’s an emotional debate that could change how school security is handled in Florida.

Just over a year after the deadliest school shooting in Florida’s history, state lawmakers are considering allowing teachers to carry guns on campus.

The measure has drawn student protesters to the state Capitol with the wounds still fresh from the Feb. 14, 2018, massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

They say the idea of their teacher having a weapon makes them feel scared — not safer.

One option is to station a sworn law enforcement at each school. That’s a costlier path and a difficult one to achieve because of the shortage of police officers. Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties — which have their own school police forces — went that route.

School boards and sheriffs can also create a “guardian program” that allows non-instructional school employees to be armed. But classroom teachers — with a few exceptions — were explicitly prohibited from carrying guns.

Twenty-five school districts participate in the guardian program. All but two elected not to arm existing employees, Gualtieri told lawmakers.

Broward County participates in the guardian program, but it doesn’t plan to arm existing employees. Instead, it decided to recruit security officers to serve as guardians.

Applicants must be at least 21 years old and have a minimum of two years of military or sworn law enforcement experience to hold the newly created job, which pays $25,000 to $33,000 a year.

The state set aside $67 million in nonrecurring funds and $500,000 in recurring dollars to help fund training for guardians, who are entitled to a one-time $500 stipend for participating in the program.

Which school employees can carry a gun already under state law?

The legislation passed after the Parkland school shooting already allows some school employees to serve as guardians in addition to their regular duties.

Examples include librarians, coaches, administrators and counselors. The legislation prohibited employees “who exclusively perform classroom duties.” Exceptions exist for teachers of a Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program, along with teachers who are a current service member or a current or former law enforcement officer.

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