TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Student activists with the March for Our Lives movement traveled to Tallahassee Wednesday to protest Republican legislation that would allow classroom teachers to carry guns on campus.
The bill was set to be taken up during the House's Wednesday floor session but, as the students rallied outside the chamber, GOP leaders decided to postpone consideration.
- FLORIDA GOVERNMENT GUIDE:
1) What exactly would the legislation do?
It would expand the 'Guardian Program,' passed by the legislature in the wake of last year's Parkland school shooting.
Under the program, only non-instructional school personnel are eligible to carry guns on campus after completing a training course. The legislation would expand eligibility to classroom teachers.
2) Why are the students opposing the bill?
They believe it would make schools less safe by enabling more non-law enforcement personnel to make life-or-death decisions during school shooting incidents. Teachers are professional educators, they argue, not professional marksmen.
Some of the students are particularly concerned about the potential for bystanders to be accidentally shot by gun-wielding teachers.
3) Why have Republicans drafted the legislation?
House Republicans had originally intended for the Guardian Program to apply to classroom teachers. Amid opposition from gun control activists during last year's legislative session, the program was tailored to allow only non-instructional personnel like coaches to participate.
This year's bill attempts to realize the initial vision for the program, which supporters argue could save lives if fully implemented.
4) Why did the House postpone consideration of the legislation?
The office of House Speaker Jose Oliva reports that Wednesday's temporary postponement of the legislation had nothing to do with the presence of the students and owed mostly to differences between House and Senate versions of Guardian Program expansion that still have to be ironed out before floor votes can take place.
5) What do the students plan to do now?
At a rally following Wednesday's House session, they chanted "we'll be back" in unison. They believe their activism in Tallahassee stymied consideration of a proposal they say makes them fear for their lives.