Parkland shooting victim's father takes school guardian oath in promotion of program

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With his hand in the air, Ryan Petty, a parent of Parkland shooting victim Alaina Petty, promised to defend the children of others.

Petty was sworn in Thursday by the Polk County sheriff as an honorary school guardian.

Petty, having completed 144 hours of tactical and classroom training, is now qualified to carry a gun in Polk County schools.

Since he's not a teacher, his swearing-in was ceremonial. But he's confident he could stop a shooter like the one who killed his 14-year-old daughter.

"The training puts you in the scenarios we are likely to experience," Petty said.

Alaina is one of 17 killed in the three minutes after the first shots were fired inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine's Day 2018.

Petty and Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, who were both on the Parkland Commission to improve school safety against shooters, have argued for months that districts should allow teachers who volunteer to carry guns, which they believe could cut response time to mere seconds.

Most districts in the Bay Area have decided against it.

Nonetheless, Petty graduated with four Polk charter school staffers who will join the hundred-plus already enlisted in Polk County's schools.

"Teachers are running into the face of danger with erasers and chalk," said Sheriff Grady Judd. "We want to say, 'Put your erasers and chalk down. Here's a gun.'"

Not all Parkland parents agree with allowing teachers to carry, including Fred Guttenberg, who lost his 14-year-old daughter, Jamie.

He told Newsweek in April, "It will increase the risk of gunfire and casualty in schools."

Parkland parents have gone in many directions, but Petty says he will use his new title - and experience - as an honorary guardian to promote the program.

"I am going to go out and advocate for this program," said Petty. "I certainly have a different perspective after graduating than I had before. Going in, I knew it was a good program. But it was academic for me. It is real now."

The sheriff has asked to keep confidential the identities of the four new guardians, two men and two women, who will be dispatched to schools.