TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The state representative who sponsored the bill that became Florida’s “stand your ground” law said Monday that schools would be safer if principals and teachers were allowed to take guns to school.
Baxley, R-Ocala, was reacting to the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 children and seven adults dead, including the gunman. Declaring schools as gun-free zones makes them more dangerous, Baxley said.
“We need to be more realistic at looking at this policy. In our zealousness to protect people from harm we’ve created all these gun-free zones and what we’ve inadvertently done is we’ve made them a target,” he said. “A helpless target is exactly what a deranged person is looking for where they cannot be stopped.”
Baxley’s idea wasn’t welcomed by the Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union.
“I don’t think it’s really a good idea to introduce guns into the classrooms or into schools,” FEA spokesman Mark Pudlow said. “The idea doesn’t seem to make sense to us.”
Baxley said he understood some people would respond to the Connecticut shootings with a call for more gun control laws, but it doesn’t work.
“If you prepare ordinary people to take responsibility for stopping violence, they do. Otherwise we’re just creating more vulnerability,” he said. “I know that it’s very foreign to people that live in a more left and urbanized culture to see how that works, but in fact it does work.”
Baxley was the sponsor of the bill that became known as the “stand your ground” law, which allows deadly force to be used if necessary to prevent death or serious injury. The 2005 law came under scrutiny this year after neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old.
Baxley said he doesn’t plan to file legislation allowing school officials or teachers to carry guns, because he is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and he doesn’t want to preside over a meeting that hears one of his own bills.
Also Monday, Gov. Rick Scott asked school officials to review and enhance their security procedures.
“School should be a sanctuary for learning and creativity where students, teachers and parents feel safe — and a review of these procedures will enhance safety for Florida schools,” Scott said in a press release.
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