Thursday, the Florida Legislature made a grave mistake, choosing to equip our teachers with guns rather than taking steps that would make schools and communities safe. As students who have lived through the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, we implore Gov. DeSantis to veto this legislation.
The governor has a simple decision to make. We fear he will side with the majority of Florida’s Legislature, against the will of a majority of law enforcement officials and educators, by signing SB 7030 into law. The bill will allow teachers to carry guns in our schools and our classrooms. This is neither safe nor smart. It simply reinforces that violence is something to be expected in places of learning.
The governor’s imminent decision to sign this disastrous bill into law would not protect students and does not create a safe environment for students to learn. Instead, it does the opposite. It takes us one step closer to turning schools into prison-like settings, where teachers are given guns supposedly to protect us — rather than given tools to teach. Essentially, teachers will become armed guards rather than focusing on conveying knowledge. Does that seem right to the governor? It certainly does not seem so to us.
More than 75 percent of adults prefer investing in mental health services for students instead of arming schools. Yet, once again, the state of Florida has conflated student safety with more guns and has let us down, again. If the Florida Legislature wanted to protect us, they would have passed meaningful legislation like safe storage or anything else to help stop guns from getting into the wrong hands. Allowing more guns in schools simply makes no sense, and does nothing to prevent future gun violence. In fact, it wrongly creates more opportunities for violence and it puts our safety at a greater risk.
Research has shown that armed civilians would be unable to effectively intervene in an active shooter situation like what happened at our school and schools all around the country. Seventy-five percent of teachers oppose the idea of being trained to carry guns. Furthermore, the majority of teachers think schools would be less safe if educators armed themselves. Why don’t we focus on preventing these tragedies and their causes, instead of focusing on how to react to them?
The Legislature should be concerned with empowering teachers to teach rather than wield weapons. It shouldn’t take students to figure this out. Policymakers are quick to rush to increase access to guns, but have done little to nothing to pass any real safety reforms. It’s sad, sickening and dangerous.
As students who have had to live with the trauma of violence in our school, we can’t escape it when we go to class. We can’t see a gun or a police officer without being reminded of the individual who burst into that building on Valentine’s Day last year and changed our lives forever. No student in Florida — or anywhere in America — should have to live and be educated like this. But, Florida’s policymakers seem ready to perpetuate this form of violence all across the state. That is not the world in which we want to grow up; let alone in which we want to learn.
Should the governor sign SB 7030 into law, we students are prepared to take a stand. We’ve learned how to mobilize and how to make our voices heard. We will take our demands to keep our schools safe to the very people who know what’s at stake. We are tired of living in fear.
All we are asking is to be safe. We don’t want any more guns in our schools. We want to live, learn and prosper — not run, fight and hide.
Lauren Hogg is a student and Ryan Deitsch is a recent graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. They are co-founders of March For Our Lives.