Educators, parents react to concept of armed teachers

- Teachers and parents continue to react Thursday to President Trump's proposal to allow teachers - with proper permits and training - to carry guns on public school campuses.

Earlier in the day, the president tweeted he wanted to explore "the possibility of giving concealed guns to gun adept teachers with military or special training experience - only the best." He added in another tweet that he believes if this happened, "ATTACKS WOULD END!"

Tara Gonzalez, who taught the 5th grade for 14 years in Tampa, called the idea "absolutely ridiculous."

"It defies all reason to be even logistical or a reality for that to happen," she said. "I became an educator because I love children and they are the future of this nation so I want to have an impact on them, not to be a high-risk security guard in a classroom."

Stephanie Baxter-Jenkins, Executive Director of the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association, agrees with Gonzalez.

"I think the idea is ludicrous for more reasons than I can count," she said, adding she doesn't think the concept is safe or feasible. "We don't provide the supplies they need in terms of basic things like paper and pencils, but we're suddenly going to find the money to give them guns and to do all the training that should go along with that? It's kind of a ridiculous concept."

Some parents, meanwhile, believe this plan would give educators a fighting chance to stop a shooter.

"I think it's worth a try," said Dimitri Tsillas, who is the father of two high school students. "I think maybe the state can come up with a program where they train people, someone who's volunteering. It won't be forced on anyone. It would be something that's concealed, not conspicuous."

Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco isn't ready to say whether he feels allowing teachers to be armed is a good idea, but he believes something should be done and it needs to be a compromise.

"If one group tries to push what they want and nobody else agrees with it, it's going to fail. It has to be a collaborative effort," Nocco told FOX 13.

As an alternative, the sheriff says putting additional school resource officers and deputies onto campuses is a step in the right direction.

"We put these SRO's onto campuses on their days off, put deputies onto campuses on their days off and then allow it to reduce off of their retirement," he said. "If you want a real solution, it's going to cost dollars. A cheap solution is not going to solve a long-term strategic enforcement effort to protect our kids." 

Other sheriffs in Tampa Bay are gradually sharing their opinions.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd and Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri agree that allowing permitted and trained teachers to carry guns will provide an additional line of defense.

"The police cannot be everywhere all the time. Everyone should have the right to protect themselves," Gualtieri said in a statement to FOX 13. "I support teachers and other school personnel who have a concealed carry permit carrying a concealed firearm on campus if they volunteer to do so, are properly trained and the carrying of a firearm is approved by the School Board and/or the school superintendent. I do not support deputizing school personnel, or anyone else as a Special Deputy Sheriff when that person has not received basic law enforcement training."

Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight, meanwhile, wants to see armed military veterans or retired law enforcement placed into schools.

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