Should Lake County teachers have guns at school?

School board gets opinion on both sides at public hearing

TAVARES, Fla. – Lake County school board members took no action on a proposal that would arm volunteer teachers and staff members with guns on campus at their meeting on Monday night.

Outside the meeting, people attending walked by a group of protesters who told News 6 they didn't want to see guns in school.

"We don’t need to police our schools, we don’t need to militarize our schools in any way," said protester Danielle Olivani. "It’s not a good message to send."

Inside the meeting, board member Bill Mathias stood by his proposal, but he wanted to make it clear to people who had gathered.

"I’ve never envisioned teachers packing on campus," he said. "We have an active shooter protocol that all teachers follow."

The proposal, outlined during the meeting by Lake County Sheriff Peyton Grinnell, would recruit volunteer teachers and staff members.

Each volunteer would go through more than 100 hours of specialized gun training -- more than some of the deputies on-staff have taken.

Grinnell said some of those courses include precision shooting, discretionary shooting, active shooter training and defensive tactics.

Some of the teachers, such as Miss Moses from East Ridge High School, said they didn't like the plan.

"I am a teacher. I am not an armed guard. You don’t pay me enough to be an armed guard. You don’t pay me enough to be a teacher," she said.

The issue pitted student against student at the meeting.

"A lot of people feel as though letting teachers have guns at school will make students feel safer, but, in fact, it wouldn’t," high school junior Caryell Pierson said.

Eustis Middle School student body president Cole Baxley said he supports the plan.

"Honestly, it would make me feel even safer if teachers carried themselves," he said. "I trust my teachers and administrators to protect us."

The public hearing also drew retired military members from the community, and one of them said he knows guns, and he said they don't belong in the classroom.

"Our teachers are not Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis or Clint Eastwood," he said.

The Lake County school board members said they did not take action on the proposal -- yet. They said they are taking what they heard at Monday night's hearing and combining that with the resources being offered by the State of Florida.  

School board officials said a final decision will be made soon.

About the Author:

Erik Sandoval joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2013. He is one of the station’s lead reporters. During his time at News 6, Erik has covered several major stories, including the 2016 Presidential campaign. He was also one of the first reporters live on the air at the Pulse Nightclub shooting.