Charles Parker: Teachers ‘Packing Heat’ Could Become Law

By  //  March 17, 2015

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Charles Parker writes a weekly perspective column, Out On the Wire…Without a Net, on Space Coast Daily which appears every Tuesday.

‘School Safety Designee’ Must Be Properly Screened, Trained To Carry Firearm

Coming to a public school campus near you…maybe…a teacher packing heat.

opinion-1802A bill to allow school districts to appoint a “school safety designee” who could carry a concealed weapon at a school has passed the House K-12 Education Subcommittee by a vote of 12-1.

The bill outlines background criteria that an armed school-based employee could meet, such as current and former military members or law enforcement officers.

The designee would have to go through “rigorous” training.

The bill in its current state does not mandate any mental health background checks – which is causing some consternation among the bills distractors. However, individual school districts could include screenings as part of their policies.

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Schools currently have policies in place if an active shooter is on a campus or if there is an imminent threat. As well, most Brevard secondary schools currently have School Resource Officers – who are employed by the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Wayne Ivey says there are a lot of factors that must be considered to implement such a proposal.

“As a veteran of Law Enforcement for over 35 years, I know first-hand that the best agencies in the country have response times in minutes, yet violent criminals can take our lives or the lives of our loved ones in seconds,” he told Space Coast Daily.

Sheriff Wayne Ivey

Sheriff Wayne Ivey

“For that reason I absolutely support a concept where there is an armed response on School Campuses.

“I would demand that anyone authorized to carry on school grounds be mandated to attend and pass very rigorous criteria to include, background, mission strategy, survival tactics and just as important, the responsibility of such a significant assignment. I truly believe this is a topic that requires deep thought and conversation, constant evaluation and should be directly linked to local law enforcement for communication, policy and training.”

I am a public school teacher so I certainly have a stake in this legislation.

I like the fact that it allows local districts to make their own decisions. What is good or bad for Brevard might not be the same that is good and bad for other counties.

We should make every effort to make our students as safe as possible at school. However, we must be diligent in making decisions that could put life-and-death issues in the hands of those not properly screened and trained.

An employee designated to carry a gun would have to complete a minimum of 40 hours of a school-safety program and each year complete eight hours of active-shooting training and four hours of firearms-proficiency training.

As well, I have great respect for Sheriff Ivey and all of our law enforcement officials.

I hope that the lawmakers in Tallahassee have looked to them to help in crafting this and the other similar bills that are making their way through the process. Their professional input is vital.

I – as well – have some questions.

Would other faculty know which teacher had a concealed weapon?

Could schools make hiring decisions based on this designation?

What if a teacher-designee changed schools to a campus where there is already one in place? Would it be a school-based decision as to who gets the gun?

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Would the designee be able to literally carry the weapon on their person – or would they be required to keep the weapon secured unless and until there is a threat?

Could a school safety designee be open to civil litigation if a wrongful death occurred?

We should make every effort to make our students as safe as possible at school. However, we must be diligent in making decisions that could put life-and-death issues in the hands of those not properly screened and trained.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Charles Parker writes a weekly perspective/opinion column, Out on the Wire…Without a Net, on Space Coast Daily which appears every Tuesday. 

He is a longtime resident of Brevard County and has been writing for various publications for the last 40 years – both print and digital. Parker covers space, politics, religion, and other news and special events for Space Coast Daily.

Charles Parker

Charles Parker

Currently, Parker is an aerospace engineering teacher at Merritt Island High School. He is also the director of both the da Vinci Academy of Aerospace Technology and the Academy of Hospitality, Entrepreneurship, and Tourism at MIHS. He is a professor of Humanities and World Religions at Eastern Florida State College and Valencia College.

Parker has worked extensively in the tourism and aerospace industries in Brevard. He has also been a United Methodist pastor and director of a non-profit to help young adults aging out of foster care. He was formerly a board member at Brevard Achievement Center and the Childcare Association of Brevard. He was appointed by Governor Jeb Bush to the Children’s Services Council from 1999-2003.

Parker earned a BA in Organizational Management from Warner University and a Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary. He is married, has four children and one grandchild.

You can reach him at cpbrevard@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @cpbrevard_scd

AUTHOR NOTE: These views are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Brevard Public Schools, Eastern Florida State College or Valencia College.


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