The Republican-controlled Florida House of Representatives approved a bill that would allow teachers to carry guns on school campuses after emotional debate on Wednesday that reportedly left some lawmakers in tears. The state Senate has already approved the widely opposed bill, and Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to sign it into law. DeSantis narrowly defeated Andrew Gillum, who ran on a platform of gun reform, in November 2018 after a close and contentious race.
The decision prompted an immediate and forceful outcry by student activists, including those who have been affected by the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, last February.
"NO NO NO NO NO NO," tweeted Lauren Hogg, an MSD student and one of the organizers of the March for Our Lives movement, who recently co-wrote an op-ed in the Miami Herald with fellow activist Ryan Deitsch, pleading with the governor not to sign the bill. "I refuse to go to a school in a state that lets teachers have guns in the classroom. This is not okay. I don’t know if I can live in Florida anymore and feel okay going to school." Emma González tweeted in response: "Listen to the people who are affected by this, those in the legislature don't know what they are doing to us."
Experts have repeatedly warned lawmakers that arming teachers has not been shown to prevent school shootings. A 2013 FBI analysis of 25 school shootings found that none of them were stopped by armed staff, Igor Volsky, founder and executive director of Guns Down America, pointed out. Additionally, in the past five years, there have been over 60 publicly reported incidents of mishandled guns at schools, according to Giffords.
It's these incidents of mishandling firearms that Kyra Parrow, 19, who graduated from MSD in 2018, fears will disproportionately affect young women and students from marginalized communities. Parrow, who cofounded Zero USA, an organization led by survivors and youth that aims to prevent gun violence, says that when she was in 10th grade at MSD, an older male teacher constantly flirted with her, called her hot, and referred to her as his "wife." Young women are already vulnerable to threats of violence from men whom they've rejected: Put two and two together, and you could have a recipe for disaster.
"Unfortunately, I can only see ways of having teachers armed that will lead to coercive control," Parrow told Refinery29. "With minorities and females on campus who are disproportionately affected by power dynamics because of racism and sexism, arming teachers will only lead to more tragedies. Having experienced a teacher being wildly inappropriate, I fear the outcome of other male teachers like him having access to a firearm. We see in the United States an increase of women who reject male advances and are ultimately killed or threatened with a firearm."