A Florida Gun Violence Commission Investigating The Parkland Shooting Recommends Arming Teachers
After February's school shooting in Parkland, Florida, the state created a commission to investigate what had enabled the massacre to take place. The group released its report on Wednesday, including advice for preventing future catastrophes. Among other things, the Florida commission's gun violence report recommends arming teachers, according to The Sun-Sentinel.
The report also advocates for more communication between agencies to identify potentially dangerous individuals and for clearer policies for law enforcement and schools about how to respond to shooters. Per The Sun-Sentinel, the report does not delve into gun control policy or many expensive safety proposals, including bulletproof glass and metal detectors (instead, it recommended that the Florida Department of Education take a look at those more costly measures).
The Stoneman Douglas School Safety Commission was formed in the wake of the massacre at Parkland's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School by Max Schachter, the father of 14-year-old victim Alex Schachter, according to The Sun-Sentinel.
"They all failed me, they failed my son," Schachter told the paper. "So I could not wait for them to take action."
Having convened for the first time on March 5, according to The Sun-Sentinel, the commission gained official status from the state government soon after. Gov. Rick Scott appointed five individuals to the 15-person group, including Ryan Petty and Andrew Pollack, who are also parents of victims, according to WLRN. Other members include public officials and members of law enforcement.
The commission has been working for nine months to investigate the Parkland tragedy. Its new 407-page report identifies many areas of blame for the shooting, including the fact that police deputies didn't immediately engage the shooter when alerted to the threat (instead, the report notes, they prioritized getting ahold of equipment like ballistic vests). It recommends that the Sheriff’s Office investigate the deputies who didn't confront the gunman.
The report also argues that the school was unprepared for a shooting, according to The Washington Post. Doors were left unlocked, it claims, and a "Code Red" alarm was activated too slowly.
The commission advocates arming educators, if they've been trained and undergone background checks. All but one of its members voted in favor of this aspect of the report — Schachter was the only person opposed, saying arming teachers "creates a host of problems," according to NBC 6.
Rep. Ted Deutch, who represents the state's 22nd Congressional District (which includes the Stoneman Douglas school), put out a statement on Wednesday opposing the recommendation to arm teachers. "The state commission has worked hard," he wrote. "I value their recommendations and ... I hope they will be seriously considered."
"However," he added, "statements from commission members supporting arming teachers are concerning. Teachers want to teach, not be armed for combat in their classrooms. Law enforcement cannot push their responsibilities to make our communities safer on to civilians that should be focused on educating their students."
The shooting at Parkland on Feb. 14 led to the deaths of 17 people, 14 of whom were students, along with a teacher, coach, and athletic director. Petty said his time on the Stoneman Douglas School Safety Commission convinced him the massacre was not a foregone conclusion.
"This was the most preventable school shooting that I've ever seen data on," he told The Sun-Sentinel. "This kid was screaming for help by publishing his intentions."
The commission will continue discussing and tweaking the report it released Wednesday. It plans to give a final version to the state government by Jan. 1.