Orange County sheriff candidates against teachers carrying guns in schools

Stroup says teachers with military, police background could be exception

By Mike Holfeld - Investigative Reporter

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - All three candidates for Orange County sheriff do not support arming teachers to protect students during an active shooter assault.

Republican candidate Tom Stroup said he supports “arming qualified school teachers (with police or military background), as long as they are not expected to be a first line of defense.”

“I have a real good friend of mine that has 25 years on SWAT, he is currently a chief of police and a school teacher, he’s qualified to carry a weapon in school,” Stroup said.

Stroup, former Florida Highway Patrol Maj. Joe Lopez and current Orlando Police Chief John Mina spoke to News 6 Monday about the proposal from President Donald Trump.

Mina, running as an independent, first spoke against the armed teachers proposal Sunday on CBS's "Face The Nation." In his view, a gun range is nothing like facing real gunfire.

“Without the mental preparation that it takes to go into a high-stress situation with a firearm and assess a situation, assess the threat and take the necessary action to stop and mitigate that threat, I just don’t think it’s a good idea,” Mina said.

Stroup, a former SWAT commander with more than 30 years in the  Orange County Sheriff’s Department, said having a firearm "is not just about having to shoot a weapon.”

“You or I could go right now and shoot a weapon in a range and qualify and have a concealed weapons permit. It’s about judgment," Stroup said. “It takes years to develop judgment and judgment comes with experience.”

Lopez, a former Marine, said teachers with or without military experience shouldn’t be expected to react, pull a weapon and open fire.

“I respect the veterans, retired law enforcement, but the teachers need to be teaching,” Lopez said. ”You’re talking about high-stress situations -- how are they going to react if they haven’t been put in that situation? I don’t think it’s a good mix.”

All three candidates said increased law enforcement presence on school campuses should be a priority.

“We do have officers available now,” Stroup said. “All we have to do now is supplement the schools with the current officers that we have.”

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