Court upholds ruling allowing school guardians to carry firearms in schools

Reporter: Morgan Rynor Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:
labelle high school
labelle high school Credit: WINK News

On Friday, a court upheld a ruling today that would allow school guardians or safety assistants to carry guns in schools.

The ruling was made by a three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeals in Duval County where attorneys for three students and the League of Women Voters of Florida argued the ruling violates state law that has long prohibited anyone but police to carry guns in schools, according to CBS Miami.

The Hendry County Sheriff’s Office says the best way to fight off a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

Parents in Hendry County couldn’t agree more. While she was hundreds of miles away, Bridgett Tutten remembers the panic that ran through her mind on February 14, 2018.

“It’s unbelievable that them things can come and happen in the school, you know. And that there’s children that you really can’t pick up on that,” Tutten said.

Just weeks after the Parkland shooting, the State Legislature  passed the “Guardian Program.” School staff members could choose to go through 144 hours of training to carry a gun on school grounds.

The Superintendent of Hendry County Schools had this to say. “Being a small rural district, we just do not have enough sheriff deputies to put enough deputies on every campuses,” said Michael Swindle.

The school guardians are back-up for the sheriff’s office, said Capt. Susan Harrell, public information officer for the Hendry County Sherriff’s Office.

“They are the second man for us. The second man for their children because if something happens to the deputy on-campus that guardian is still on the scout,” Harrell said.

But, attorneys argued guardians violate state law that prohibits anyone other than law enforcement officers from carrying guns on campus. The court disagreed and chose to uphold the program.

Joe Boe is a parent. “I’d like to see it expanded. Anybody that works at the schools that wants to have it, that wants to be able to protect our kids, please let them do it,” Boe said.

The Sherriff’s Office says until a better option comes along they will continue to train guardians.

“We want to ensure parents and anybody who might be thinking about coming onto our school campuses that we have armed individuals,” said Harrell.

Their goal is for the guardians to remain anonymous much like a flight marshal on a plane.

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