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Bill aims to arm school teachers to defend students in violent emergencies

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FORT MYERS

Being a school teacher may be more than educating kids. A new bill wants these educators to be the last line of defense in a violent emergency.

“I just believe that they should be able to protect themselves and the other students that are under their care,” said Shawn Baker, a parent.

The Florida Senate is considering legislation that would add educators to the controversial school guardian program.

If teachers go through a voluntary training program, they would be eligible to carry guns in their classrooms.

Some parents, like Baker, think it is a good idea especially in light of the threats in Lee County.

“You have these kids that are constantly writing, or posting, that they’re going to shoot the school up or just take out their aggression on the other students that are basically just fish in a barrel,” Baker said.

But many are pushing back against that idea, including the Lee County Teacher’s Union.

“Teachers are trained to teach and instruct,” said Kevin Daly, president of the Teachers Association of Lee County. “The law enforcement is trained to deal with those situations.”

Rich Kolko, WINK News safety and security expert, said the training program could not possibly prepare teachers to take out a school shooter.

“A tactical situation is much different than a firearms training situation,” Kolko said. “Anyone can shoot paper targets four times a year or even 30 hours or 45 hours — whatever the training is.

“But to actually track, identify, and engage a target under a strenuous, stressful situation is just a very high level of training.”

Kolko said the solution is more school resource officers. But proponents of the bill said that still is not enough.

“There’s maybe a resource officer here or there,” Baker said. “But that’s one resource officer to hundreds, maybe thousands of kids. And that just doesn’t seem safe to me.”

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