THE INSIDER COLUMN 05.31.18

posted by Bill Mick -

Even legislators who crafted it aren’t happy. The MSD School Safety Act is law and very few see it as a positive. For the anti-gun crowd it opens the door to more guns in schools. For the pro-protection folks it’s that provision that could save lives. But it also made former law abiding citizens less than they were before it was passed and signed into law.

In their rush to have something in law before the end of the 2018 regular legislative session, the legislature scrambled to put together a bill that would do anything to make it look like they acted to protect our kids and get more money into our school system to help prevent future tragedy. It also has loopholes that school districts are driving big yellow busses through to avoid action that would be effective in stopping an active shooter.

While authorizing “guardians”-armed school personnel who could respond if shooting breaks out- it did not mandate them. It also paid for extensive training for them to be ready to assume the role if necessary. It didn’t consider the logistics or cost to districts of paying those personnel to train. While paying for the training, it did not specify the formula or vision for those guardians in schools (estimated 10/ school x the number of schools in the state) as the basis for the training funds. This was unknown before Brevard’s school board voted to implement another plan.

The legislature also acted to appease the anti-gun crowd with restrictions on certain firearms accessories, the age of adults allowed to buy any gun and a waiting period for any legal purchase. None of these add in any way to safety in our schools. A similar provision adds “diversity” training to the guardian program. Diversity in an active shooter situation is simple: some have guns and some do not, that’s it.

In other words, the legislature’s haste and capitulation to their leadership resulted in a bad law that does not attain the goal of safer schools. The claim was that if they did not pass this, there would be no time to have schools ready by the next school year.

I would submit to you that ending the regular session, taking a week break and returning to a special session to properly contemplate and pass an actual safety law would have us closer to safer schools than we are today. After all, if districts are taking little to no action now, what would be different at this moment?  Either nothing or a better plan based on better law is the answer.

As it stands, legislators are claiming they want to “fix” this law when they go back in regular session. That’s in 2019 when the next school year is nearly over and we’ve had one year of small measures that do little to stop that active shooter.

Bad law creates bad results. We see them today. Taking the time to do this correctly instead of acting in self-serving political expedience would have been a better path. The legislature knows this, yet balanced political careers against the lives of school children to appear to have done something...even if it was wrong.

Florida’s kids deserve better.

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