Safety and Training

Florida Campus Carry Law: Does It Go Far Enough?

Teacher in front of a blackboard drawing a pistol from a holster.

To give a brief recap, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting happened. I think we all know what happened there, the wildly-poor response of the Broward County Sheriff’s SRO, and later the entire top rank of that agency. As a result of the deaths and the follow up investigation, the State Legislature passed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, in March of 2018.

Teacher in front of a blackboard drawing a pistol from a holster.
In over 20 years, there have been ZERO school shootings in Utah. Might it have something to do with the likelihood of being shot back at by a legally-armed adult?

This was the legislature attempting to make a positive effort to stop or at least reduce the carnage in future school shootings. The basis of this law allows non-instructors (unless current or previous military or law enforcement) with a carry permit to take an additional 132-hour training program to be allowed to carry on campus. This program would only be allowed if the local school board authorizes the program. Needless to say, the anti-gun anti-child safety crowd clutched their pearls so tightly they ended up with odd shaped diamonds.

The legislature has recently adjusted this law. The Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program is now available to any classroom teacher regardless of prior work history. The program is named after the coach who chose to place his body between the shooter and his students, at the cost of his own life. The bitter pearl clingers with those misshapen diamonds are not clenching even tighter. Any teacher can carry on campus, if the school board authorizes the program at the local level.

Let me make sure we are all on the same page. If the Brevard County School Board authorizes the new program, teachers in Brevard County are now ALLOWED to invest 132 hours of their own time. At the end of the program, those who pass become authorized to be armed protection for their students. They are not paid to take the training. They are not mandated to take part in the program. They provide their own gun and they VOLUNTEER to do this.

If say, a Miami-Dade County School Board chooses to NOT authorize this program, their teachers have only one method of joining the The Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, moving to a School District that has authorized the program. However, the screeching is deafening. The rending of cloth over forcing all teachers to carry a gun, demanding that all children be forced to live in fear of armed teachers, and oh the propaganda against. Gabrielle Gifford’s group put out an analysis of on campus gun incidents.

First let’s realize the scope of this “analysis.” Over a four-year period, her group claims 67 gun-related incidents on campuses relating back to campus carry in the whole country. Just on its face, this is a small number of incidents considering 10 states have some version of a permissive Campus Carry law on the books, many others have much narrower options and most states have some variation of a School Resource Officer program in at least some schools. This means for literally hundreds of thousands of man hours, guns were on campuses during this “analysis” window, and they could only come up with 67 “mishandling” events.

Now let’s look a little closer at that list of 67 incidents. Of those, exactly one was committed by someone who would fall under the authority of the modified Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program. That was an administrator in Texas who disarmed while on a trip to a school system that did not allow guns on campus. She forgot to rearm when she returned to the transport van and her firearm was found in the van the next day. Of course, this falls in the category of stupid, but not a negligent discharge or an injury to self or others.

Of the incidents counted, at least 10 were family or friends of students caught in violation of the no campus carry law. Roughly 30 were commissioned police officers who got complacent and improperly handled a gun or allowed others to do so. In multiple situations, the officer had a negligible discharge. Several of those situations resulted in injury to the officer or others. On two occasions, the officer in question was unable to stop a student from firing his or her holstered weapon. I don’t even know how that can happen in a proper police-issue holster. It is certainly impossible in any Safariland duty holster I have seen, and the same holds true for my girlfriend’s Blackhawk! duty holster.

This is not to say that police should not be on campus or that they should not be armed. It is to say that Florida’s 132 hours of firearms training is higher than any standard I have seen for a police academy graduate. It is also to say that no matter who is armed, they are people and people make mistakes. Of these, “squint real hard” to create 67 incidents over a four-year period, not a single death occurred. Now let’s compare that to the record of active shooters, oh wait…

I guess we could compare it to the state of Utah where, for all practical purposes, anyone with a carry permit is allowed to carry concealed while on campus. Guess how many injury incidents have been reported in 20 years of campus carry. ONE, and I am pretty sure every single instance would be thoroughly documented by the campus officials who hate guns and such freedom hating groups as “Moms Demand Attention Action”. In this case, a female teacher dropped her gun while removing it to use the bathroom. It fell and somehow “went off.” A fumble fingered grab attempt is the most likely cause, not by impact with the toilet as described. But, even in this case, the injury was caused by a shard of the shattered commode, not the bullet. The injury happened to the teacher and she very quickly became a former teacher.

There are two other school gun incidents listed for Utah in that 20-year period. In the first, two teenage gang members had an altercation that happened to be technically on school property. It happened in the middle of the night when one gang member shot the other.

The other was a student who brought a gun to school with the intention of committing suicide. He shot the ceiling, then waved it around before quickly surrendering the firearm with no one injured. Also be aware, this list holds such things as someone shooting a BB gun at a bus, as a school-related gun incident. If there were more gun related items, such silliness would not be needed to pad the list.

If anything, the Florida legislature has not gone far enough. With Utah as the example, anyone who has a carry permit should be allowed to carry on campus. No offense to truly professional School Resource Officers or workers at a school. There are a lot less of you than there are of us. When any parent comes on campus, they add a mystery to the mix. They are DIRECTLY motivated to protect their kid in a way no one else can be. In over 20 years, there have been ZERO school shootings in Utah. Might it have something to do with the likelihood of being shot back at by a legally-armed adult?

Are you in favor of armed teachers in the schools? What about armed parents? Share your answers in the comment section.

About the Author:

John Bibby

John Bibby is an American gun writer who had the misfortune of being born in the occupied territory of New Jersey. His parents moved to the much freer state of Florida when he was 3. This allowed his father start teaching him about shooting prior to age 6. By age 8, he was regularly shooting with his father and parents of his friends. At age 12, despite the strong suggestions that he shouldn’t, he shot a neighbor’s “elephant rifle."

The rifle was a .375 H&H Magnum and, as such, precautions were taken. He had to shoot from prone. The recoil-induced, grass-stained shirt was a badge of honor. Shooting has been a constant in his life, as has cooking.

He is an (early) retired Executive Chef. Food is his other great passion. Currently, he is a semi-frequent 3-Gun competitor, with a solid weak spot on shotgun stages. When his business and travel schedule allow, you will often find him, ringing steel out well past 600 yards. In order to be consistent while going long, reloading is fairly mandatory. The 3-Gun matches work his progressive presses with volume work. Precision loading for long-range shooting and whitetail hunting keeps the single-stage presses from getting dusty.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (15)

  1. I am limited as to what I can say due to security reasons. I want to assure people that the “Guardian Program” is alive and well in the State of Florida. Several members of my family have been training since school was dismissed for the summer break. They have been training hard with the local SWAT Team at the actual campuses that they will be at in September. They have been preparing for so many different scenarios. They had great instructors and they have good equipment and know what to do and how to utilize their equipment. I am proud of them.

  2. We have an even better solution to school shootings, if we’re serious about it. You can already get a college degree online without stepping foot outside your house, so why do we continue sending our children to brick-and-mortar schools? Social development, athletics, dating, and other “non-academic” aspects of school can be easily replicated in other ways, typically both safer and cheaper. Any serious home-school advocate can recite a long list of examples of how they do it. What’s the physical school doing for us today, other than acting as a holding pen for kids while their parents work?

  3. Utah is the only state that has it figured out. Everyone else is just making more complicated than it really is.

  4. You will never convince me that mass murderers are not drawn to “gun free” zones. It is absolutely the most absurd idea there ever was. Stupid is not a strong enough word.

  5. This law pretty much makes sure that no teachers will ever qualify to carry in school in FL. With the average price/day of training at any academy ranging from $4-500, there will be very few teachers who can afford the cost of 3 weeks of training. The state of FL accepts a certificate of training for a 4 day class from a school such as Front Sight or Gunsite as more than sufficient to qualify for a concealed carry license. I know because that is what I had to submit for my permit. A 4 day class from any quality training facility is more than adequate to train a teacher for any incident he/she is likely to encounter on the job. Utah’s law makes much more sense. Just knowing that there is likely a trained teacher or two in the school is enough to deter most of these cowards who attack in the gun free zones created by our STUPID politicians.

  6. In one place you say “Broward County” and in another you say “Brevard County”. Did you confuse them? Many do, In Brevard County we have the highest percentage of rocket scientists and area code “321” as in “Lift off” and we never had any hanging chads! We also test to vote Republican and have elected and reelected a sheriff who believes in the 2nd Amendment and encourages citizens to come shoot at his ranges one day a month.

    Personally, I thing arming teachers is providing the last line of defense.

    Front office personnel should be armed.

    Administrators and staff members who walk around campus during classes and PE teachers are outside should be armed.

    Then the confrontation with a person bent on evil would probably not involve a classroom teacher unless one was responding to a shooting outside the teacher’s classroom.

  7. I support arming teachers, who volunteer to carry and who attend a reasonable (not 132 hours) gun safety and defensive pistol course. They should also have a License to Carry (LTC), but will be much more qualified, having attended the course, than will many with LTC’s.

    Person’s with an LTC should be permitted to carry concealed on school grounds.

  8. Si vis pacem para bellum! Not knowing who will lawfully answer your aggression definitely DOES make evildoers think twice before becoming a threat/target, since most of them are cowards who value their life a lot more than they do others. Responsible citizens should not get about their daily life in fear of a criminal who will not think twice about taking a life or more. Police officers CANNOT be in all places all the time. That’s where a lawful CCW citizen can make a difference.

  9. Of course not. The inestimable Dr. John Lott, jr, has shown quite clearly and with unimpeachable data and rigorous analysis, that the more guns in the hands of the law-abiding, the less crime. Florida needs to do better here. The law cited is really only a half-measure; something Florida has a history of. Sure, they helped lead the way for concealed carry permitting, and for the castle doctrine, but they still violate our Second Amendment Rights to a significant degree. The ONLY way to bear arms outside the home in Florida is concealed with a permit. Open Carry is prohibited. Thus the only way to exercise our Rights is by permission granted by the State after a fee has been paid. This kind of half measure is better than none, but not enough. Allowing any Teacher who is not prohibited from owning a firearm to carry on school campus can only be a good thing. Prohibiting carry on school grounds, in the so called ‘Gun Free’ zones has proven to be lethal. So, putting such hurdles in the path of teachers who want to protect themselves and their students is very short-sighted. The other way this law is only a half-measure is that it does not address college campuses. They are still in lethal jeopardy by continuing to be ‘Gun-Free’, helpless victim zones. College campuses are comprised of Adults. These Adults are currently stripped of their Rights and daily are in serious jeopardy to become victimized solely because of their inability to protect themselves. Advertising this as every College Campus does, with their multitudinous signs on virtually every door announcing this is madness. The anti-gun crowd has had their chance to try their solution, and it has ended in bloody tragedy, many, many times. What further proof do we need as a society that such policies have failed. The results seen when campuses (either grade school or college) allow carry on the premises show the success of this policy; especially when held up side-by-side with the outcome of the NO GUN policies!

  10. I would love to have what Utah has, here in Iowa. My son is not quite old enough to go to school and I have 2 neices in high school. I live literally 2 blocks from the high school and I have every intention of denying any school shooters access to shoot them. My neices could literally text me faster than any police car could get to that school.

  11. I think all Gun Free Zones pertaining to School Zones should be done away with. As long as the crazed Shooter knows that no one will be there to shoot back, they will continue to feel fearless. I’m sure that Utah’s lack of school shootings has much to do with there being armed Teachers on Campus, therefore inhibiting the shooters resolve, or courage. Not being able to have a free for all while killing innocent students, knowing that an armed teacher might shoot back will stop most of these cowards from acting out.

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