Umatilla lawmaker Alan Hays wants to arm school employees

by Erica Rodriguez, Orlando Sentinel  |  published on March 28, 2013

alan hays

State Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, wants to give principals and superintendents authority to designate certain school employees who could bring concealed weapons onto school grounds.

Hays said he wants to make it legal for school employees with firearms training to bring weapons on campus as a way to “create an uncertainty on the part of those who might perpetrate evil.”

“If this bill passes (perpetrators) will then be facing a mystery,” he said. “They have no idea if this is a gun-free zone or if their administrator has empowered educators to carry weapons.”

Hays, whose bill is SB 1418, joins Rep. Greg Steube R-Sarasota and several other co-sponsors who have filed HB 1097, a similar bill in the House. Hays’ idea echoes that of Lake School Board member Bill Mathias, who drew national attention in January when he called for the district to create a program to “deputize” volunteer teachers so they could bring district-purchased weapons to class.

Hays said Mathias’ plan didn’t prompt him to file his bill but he believes the idea of arming school employees would be cheaper than staffing every campus with law-enforcement officers. The Lake district, for example, will spend at least $863,615 this school year for deputies in middle and high schools. Staffing all elementary campuses for the second half of the school year was estimated to cost another $400,000.

Hays said if his bill becomes law it would be up to principals and school boards to decide how to select those designated to carry guns on campus. The idea is sure to face opposition from education groups such as the Florida School Boards Association.

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