An issue that has resurged in recent weeks is gun control. While an already controversial topic that lawmakers have been debating, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri is throwing his support behind arming teachers and school personnel to provide a line of defense against school shootings.
Last week, it was reported that Jan Jordan had resigned as Captain of the Broward Sheriff’s Office for “personal reasons,” and Brian Miller, one of her subordinates, had been placed on restricted duty. Both faced heavy criticism over their lack of response during the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting that occurred on February 14th.
Speaking on Miller, Sheriff Gualtieri had commented that Miller “sat up on Holmberg Road for 10 minutes. He heard gunshots and he didn’t move. He never got on the radio. … He didn’t act.”
As a response to helping prevent future shootings, Gualtieri noted that “The schools across Florida need a change in their culture. Yes, those teachers are great people doing great work and they need to be able to teach, but you can’t teach dead kids. Safety has to come first.”
This, in fact, is a shift in view from initially arguing that arming teachers and personnel was not a good response to the situation.
Mike Gandolfo, president of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association, agrees. The state teachers’ union and the teachers’ union in Pinellas county also believe this isn’t the right measure.
Gandolfo explained that he would “feel safer knowing that a trained law enforcement is the person protecting us.”
However, Gualteri argues that having trained teachers and personnel that are armed would make potential attackers think twice.
He explained, “Those that want to go through a rigorous selection process. those who want to volunteer for it, those who have the courage to do it, the willingness to do it — why would we not give them the opportunity?”
Gualtieri also added that “The status quo has failed and unless we make change, we will continue to have an environment that doesn’t provide the right level of safety in schools.”