The law allowing teachers to be armed on school grounds has been signed by Governor Ron DeSantis but several experts are raising serious concerns.
“All the elements to this are just an absolute recipe for disaster,” said Curt Lavrello, executive director at the School Safety Advocacy Council.
The law is expanding on the already existing guardian program, which allowed some qualified individuals on campus to be armed but excluded full-time teachers.
“I think it’s absurd,” said Sen. Lori Berman (D). “I’m so worried about it. I can’t imagine the logistics of it.”
According to the law, school districts have to opt into the program. Currently all of the school districts in our area (Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River and Okeechobee) are not participating.
Lawmakers who voted for the law think it could make the difference between life or death.
“It turns out to be the most practical, immediate answer about the first five minutes,” said Sen. Dennis Baxley (R).
Lavrello, a former law enforcement officer, said he believes it might sound good on paper but not in reality.
“We know that in very high stress situations in law enforcement, we miss our targets over 70 percent of the time,” Lavrello said. “And we train specifically for active shooters.”
He’s referring to a study done at the NYPD that showed even trained officers only hit their targets about 30 percent of the time in high-stress situations.
“That’s very accurate,” said West Palm Beach Police Captain Brian Kapper. “This is real life, this isn’t television.”
West Palm Beach trains its officers regularly for active shooter situations.
“Because this isn’t a natural act, you have to train these officers to get into this mindset,” Kapper said.
Officers are put through rigorous training, trying to get them used to loud noises, bad visibility and panicked people around them.
It’s the kind of in-depth training teachers won’t receive.
The law stipulates around 140 hours of training, but no continued training after that.
“When an active shooter situation occurs, everybody’s adrenaline is pumping, it’s a lot different from going to a pistol range and qualifying and shooting at a target,” Lavrello said.
Lavrello has other concerns with the law. Where do teachers store their guns? Which holsters are they using? Who will regularly check their guns?
Concerns that Beverly Blanchette, a former teacher, shares.
“If someone wants to get a gun from a teacher, it’s going to happen,” Blanchette said.
Lavrello said the most successful tool in stopping school shootings has been students alerting officials about suspicious behaviors.